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Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica

Print version ISSN 0102-7972


ROAZZI, Antonio et al. What is emotion? searching the organizational structure of children's concept of emotion. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2011, vol.24, n.1, pp.51-61. ISSN 0102-7972.

The main aim of this study was to investigate the structural organization of the semantic concept of emotion in children based on an emic perspective. A free word association (emotion) and two questions (frequency of emotions and what they knew about emotions) was applied to a sample of 247 children aged 7-12 from public and private schools in Brazil. The question concerning what they knew about emotions indicated that most children link emotions to feelings, things their heart feels. Participants also gave examples of positive and negative experiences, specifying certain emotions, mainly emotions classified as primary by researchers in this field. Regarding the question about the frequency of those emotions in their lives, they pointed out joy, happiness and sadness as being the emotions frequently experienced on their daily lives. On the free word association primary emotions predominated being joy the most frequent one, followed by sadness, happiness, anger, fear and love. We also encountered more elaborate emotions (secondary emotions) such as missing someone, hatred, peace, and anxiety, among others. In order to verify the structural organization of their semantic conceptual field, we analyzed the categories that participants emitted on the free association task by means of Structural Similarity Analysis (SSA). A method of "external variables as points" was applied with the intention of verifying the relation between the structure created from the semantic field and the variables of age, sex and type of school. Multiple regressions were also computed. It was found that the type of school and, especially, age played a relevant role in predicting the structural organization of emotions, i.e. an ordered modular structure.

Keywords : Emotion; Feeling; Concept; Social representations.

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