Mothers' and children's positive emotion: Relations and trajectories across four years

Julie Sallquist, Nancy Eisenberg, Tracy Spinrad, Bridget M. Gaertner, Natalie Wilkens, Nianli Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The goals of this study were to examine the relations between and trajectories of mothers' and children's social positive expressivity (PE). Mothers' and children's PE were observed annually for four years beginning when children were approximately 18 months old (N = 247; 110 girls). Based on correlations, there was evidence of rank-order stability in children's and mothers' PE. Based on growth curve analyses, mothers' and children's PE followed curvilinear trajectories; thus, mean-level instability was found. Children's PE during a free-play interaction with their mothers increased then decreased slightly whereas mothers' affect during the same task decreased then stabilized. Children's PE during a joy-inducing situation (i.e., bubbles) with an experimenter slightly decreased and then increased. In panel models, there was no evidence of prediction over time across children's and mothers' PE when taking stability into account. These unique trajectories and relations provide insight into the developmental pattern of young children's and their mothers' PE elicited within social contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-821
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Positive emotion
  • Socialization of emotion
  • Trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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