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Dev Psychopathol. 2004 Spring;16(2):355-69.

Emotion understanding in postinstitutionalized Eastern European children.

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University of Wisconsin at Madison, 53706-8190, USA.


To examine the effects of early emotional neglect on children's affective development, we assessed children who had experienced institutionalized care prior to adoption into family environments. One task required children to identify photographs of facial expressions of emotion. A second task required children to match facial expressions to an emotional situation. Internationally adopted, postinstitutionalized children had difficulty identifying facial expressions of emotion. In addition, postinstitutionalized children had significant difficulty matching appropriate facial expressions to happy, sad, and fearful scenarios. However, postinstitutionalized children performed as well as comparison children when asked to identify and match angry facial expressions. These results are discussed in terms of the importance of emotional input early in life on later developmental organization.

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