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Elaboration and regulation of lived emotion in preschoolers’ autobiographical narratives

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This research assesses the influence of maternal conversational cooperation upon preschoolers’ narratives of a lived event. Mothers and children (N = 46) were seen in a laboratory for the Geneva Emotion-Eliciting Scenario (GEES). Mothers were directed to ask the child to tell the story of what she experienced, both immediately after the event (T1) and two weeks later (T2). Narratives were micro-analyzed for illocutionary acts (mothers) and content (children). Results show different maternal styles, ranging from emotional facilitation to active omission and disengagement. Children of mothers with an emotional facilitation style (i) produce longer narratives than the other children, (ii) mention the scenario’s high point more often, and (iii) describe the chronology of the events with greater accuracy. Empathetic formulation and insistence are the two main factors that explain these effects.

Keywords: autobiographical narratives; emotion regulation; maternal cooperation; preschoolers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 3, 2011

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