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Emotional expressions of displeasure in the first year of life: manifestations and processes of transformation

Grant number: 10/13328-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2011
Effective date (End): August 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Human Development Psychology
Principal Investigator:Katia de Souza Amorim
Grantee:Ludmilla Dell Isola Pelegrini de Melo Ferreira
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Emotion is a theme that is present in various fields of knowledge, including developmental psychology, from which Henri Wallon acknowledged. In his theory, emotional expression is as a central theme, understood as constituting of the bond between the baby and her interactional partners in the early months of life. A literature review showed various theoretical and methodological perspectives that have been exploring emotions as a theme. The results of these studies have generally shown the great communicational and interactive capacity of babies through their emotional expressions. However, these studies focus facial expressions, particularly positive ones like the smile, and studies investigating the transformations of emotions during the first year of life were not found. Most researches are carried in laboratories with a transversal design. Thus, the present study aims at following the manifestations and the process of transformation of emotional expressions of displeasure in a baby during her first year of life, contemplating various forms of emotional manifestation- facial, vocal and bodily expressions. The video recordings that were used are part of CINDEDI's Image bank and the baby was recorded at home from her first week of life until her twelfth month. The recordings were made weekly during her first six months of life, and bi-weekly in the next semester, with an approximate duration of one hour each. For the construction of the corpus of analysis, a mapping of both the baby's emotional expressions of displeasure and her interactional partners' action was carried out. The categories for observation and registry were defined as facial, bodily, vocal and looking expressions. For the interactional partners, another category was added to these, namely, the actions directed towards the baby. For the analysis of this material, the first year was divided into four trimesters and an episode of interaction for each period was selected. The analysis enabled the observation that since her first weeks of life, the baby articulately manifests her facial, vocal and bodily expressions to communicate her unease. In her first two months of life, all of her expressions presented similar count of manifestation, but from the third month on, it is noted that the facial expressions are shown with a considerably lower frequency than the vocal and bodily ones, which are evident throughout the whole first year. Moreover, the articulation among the expressions is not random, but it presents a specific sequence that deepens the manifestation of the baby's unease or irritancy: it starts with body movements, to which the vocal expression is added and, finally, the facial expressions. Crying (which is a vocal and facial expression) is the last resource applied in order to express displeasure. The interactional partners seek to respond to the baby and to calm her down through various actions that also change with time, though talking is always their main resource. Thus, the baby's expressions and her interactional partners' actions are articulated in such a manner that the transformations of emotional manifestations become circumscribed both to the context and to the relationships, which highlights processes of regulation and meaning attribution to expressions of displeasure. It is thus discussed the constitution of emotion by a biologically cultural process, and the educational practices that constitute the social matrix from which these emotional manifestations arise, circumscribing the baby's possibilities of expression.

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(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
FERREIRA, Ludmilla Dell Isola Pelegrini de Melo. Emotional expressions of displeasure in the first year of life: manifestations and processes of transformation.. 2013. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (PCARP/BC) Ribeirão Preto.

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