Screaming, yelling, whining, and crying: categorical and intensity differences in vocal expressions of anger and sadness in children's tantrums.

Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Storrs, CT 06269-1020, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 06/2011; 11(5):1124-33. DOI: 10.1037/a0024173
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Young children's temper tantrums offer a unique window into the expression and regulation of strong emotions. Previous work, largely based on parental report, suggests that two emotions, anger and sadness, have different behavioral manifestations and different time courses within tantrums. Individual motor and vocal behaviors, reported by parents, have been interpreted as representing different levels of intensity within each emotion category. The present study used high-fidelity audio recordings to capture the acoustic features of children's vocalizations during tantrums. Results indicated that perceptually categorized screaming, yelling, crying, whining, and fussing each have distinct acoustic features. Screaming and yelling form a group with similar acoustic features while crying, whining, and fussing form a second acoustically related group. Within these groups, screaming may reflect a higher intensity of anger than yelling while fussing, whining, and crying may reflect an increasing intensity of sadness.

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