Children's understanding of mixed emotions in self
and other: Verbal reports and visual
Department of Psychology and Counselling,
University of Chichester, Chichester, UK
Esther Burkitt, Department of Psychology and
Counselling, University of Chichester, College
Lane, Chichester PO19 6PE, UK.
Patterns of simultaneous experiences of mixed emotion have been
found in adulthood using analogue emotion scales (AES) that
measure subjective intensity and duration of two emotions in one
graph. Children report simultaneous emotions increasingly between
5 and 7 years of age. These reports may underestimate the type of
simultaneous experiences. This research piloted an extended
interview and AES to assess subjective mixed emotion types in
childhood. One hundred and eighty children (91 girls, 89 boys)
between 5 years 2 months and 7 years 3 months (M = 6 years
3 months) were allocated to two conditions (self: n = 90, other:
n = 90), hearing a vignette describing a mixed emotion event
occurring either to another child or to themselves. Log‐linear
analysis of reported and graphed responses showed simple,
sequential, prevalence, inverse, and highly simultaneous emotion
experiences. Younger children reported more single and sequential
experiences. Older children reported and graphed more simulta-
neous experiences. Mixed emotion varied by measure type with
more prevalence experiences graphed than reported and more
inverse experiences reported than graphed. The results indicate
the potential for the utility of the adapted AES for use with children.
• Investigating types of mixed emotion experiences in childhood
using reports and an adapted analogue emotion scale.
• Children reported and graphed single and mixed emotion experi-
ences for themselves or another child. Single, sequential, preva-
lence, inverse, and highly simultaneous experiences were
reported and graphed by both age groups in both conditions.
More prevalence experiences were graphed than reported and
more inverse experiences reported than graphed.
Received: 28 October 2016 Revised: 7 November 2017 Accepted: 7 November 2017
Inf Child Dev. 2018;27:e2076.
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