Affective states, expressive behavior, and learning in children

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Two experiments with 48 4-yr-olds each are reported to illustrate the effects of emotional states on learning and validate experimental affect-induction procedures in which individuals dwell upon thoughts of affect-provoking experiences. Positive affective states enhanced learning, and negative states retarded it dramatically. Ratings of children's facial expressions confirmed that positive affect-induction procedures elicited happy expressions, and negative inductions elicited sad ones. Additionally, positive affect inductions enhanced children's apparent interest, involvement, and arousal, and negative inductions decreased them. These measures were related to learning but proved not to be the sole mediators of the impact of affective states on learning. The thoughts children generated for affect induction illustrated their recognition of naturalistic experiences that induce affective states. Results indicate that young children possess the potential for the cognitive self-control of their own affective states, and the effects on learning indicate that even transient mood states may produce lasting changes in behavior. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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