A happy story: Developmental changes in children's sensitivity to facial expressions of varying intensities.
The development of children's ability to recognize facial emotions and the role of configural information in this development were investigated. In the study, 100 5-, 7-, 9-, and 11-year-olds and 26 adults needed to recognize the emotion displayed by upright and upside-down faces. The same participants needed to recognize the emotion displayed by the top half of an upright or upside-down face that was or was not aligned with a bottom half that displayed another emotion. The results showed that the ability to recognize facial emotion develops with age, with a developmental course that depends on the emotion to be recognized. Moreover, children at all ages and adults exhibited both an inversion effect and a composite effect, suggesting that children rely on configural information to recognize facial emotions.