Recognition of facial emotions of varying intensities by three-year-olds.

Early facial emotion recognition is hypothesized to be critical to later social functioning. However, relatively little is known about the typical intensity thresholds for recognizing facial emotions in preschoolers, between 2 and 4 years of age. This study employed a behavioral sorting task to examine the recognition of happy, fearful, and angry expressions of varying intensity in a large sample of 3-year-old children (N = 208). Thresholds were similar for all expressions; accuracy, however, was significantly lower for fear. Fear and anger expressions above threshold were significantly more confused with one another than with other expressions. In contrast, neutral faces were significantly more often interpreted as happy than as angry or fearful. These results provide a comparison point for future studies of early facial emotion recognition in typical and atypical populations of children in this age group. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)