Production and discrimination of facial expressions by preschool children.

T. M. Field, T. A. Walden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Production and discrimination of the 8 basic facial expressions were investigated among 34 3-5-year-old preschool children. The children's productions were elicited and videotaped under 4 different prompt conditions (imitation of photographs of children's facial expressions, imitation of those in front of a mirror, imitation of those when given labels for the expressions, and when given only labels). Adults' "guesses" of the children's productions as well as the children's guesses of their own expressions on videotape were more accurate for the happy than afraid or angry expressions and for those expressions elicited during the imitation conditions. Greater accuracy of guessing by the adult than the child suggests that the children's productions were superior to their discriminations, although these skills appeared to be related. Children's production skills were also related to sociometric ratings by their peers and expressivity ratings by their teachers. These were not related to the child's age and only weakly related to the child's expressivity during classroom free-play observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1311
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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