Emotion Valence for Social Communication During Story Retells

Rochel Lieberman, Nancy A. Creaghead, Lesley Raisor-Becker, Isabelle Barrière, Noah Silbert and Gary L. Dick


Purpose: Children’s narratives may differ based on whether they are describing events that elicit positive versus negative emotions and may be more detailed when talking about negative emotions. Understanding how children retell stories representing varied emotions may guide educators in providing opportunities for children to develop social communication. This study examined retells of stories depicting positive versus negative emotions and responses to follow-up questions relating to facets of social communication.
Method: Video stories depicting positive versus negative emotions were presented to 22 preschool children (ages 4;1–5;3 [years;months]). Macrostructure in the retells (measured by the Index of Narrative Complexity) and talk about emotions (measured by number and variety of emotion words) and action/attempts (rated by a rubric for quality of response) were analyzed.
Results: The only significant result was the difference between the number of times the macro element, complication, was included in retells, with a greater number in the negative condition.
Conclusion: The consistent quality of retells across emotion valence suggests that positive and negative emotions may both be used in fictional stories depicting social scenarios to develop opportunities to assess and talk about facets of social communication.

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