P1: GCR/GCY P2: GCR
Sex Roles [sers] pp489-sers-373449 May 13, 2002 11:13 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sex Roles, Vol. 45, Nos. 11/12, December 2001 (
“I Was Really, Really, Really Mad!” Children’s Use
of Evaluative Devices in Narratives About
and Marleen Biggs
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Children (ages 3, 5, and 8 years, mostly White and middle-class) were asked
to tell personal experience narratives about a time when they had been happy,
surprised, and mad. Their explicit emotion labels as well as their use of linguis-
tic forms of evaluation to convey emotion were assessed. Five-year-old boys
were the most likely to explicitly label anger, while gender and age differences
in explicit emotion labels were absent for the other two emotions. However,
children used many more linguistic devices for providing evaluation than ex-
plicit emotion labels in their narratives. They also provided more with age, and
they used more evaluative devices when talking about anger-arousing events
than about happy or surprising events. The few gender differences suggested
that 3-year-old girls may acquire earlier mastery of evaluative devices than do
boys, especially references to emotional states.
KEY WORDS: narrative; emotion; evaluation; language; stories.
Gender differences in the expression of emotion have been well documented
in adults (Brody, 1999). However, as persuasively argued by Brody, research
results are substantially affected by both context and measurement tool.
Less research has focused on gender differences in emotional expression
in children. They begin to talk about emotions by as early as 18 months
of age (e.g., Dunn, Bretherton, & Munn, 1987; Miller & Sperry, 1987), and
Dunn et al.’s study documenting talk about ongoing or present events found
This paper is in memory of Marleen Biggs, who died May 28, 2001. The research reported here
was her Undergraduate Honour’s Thesis.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Psychology Department, Memorial Uni-
versity of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3X9; e-mail: carole@
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation