Problems in social functioning are frequently noted in the literature with respect to deaf or hard-of-hearing children. Yet, their emotional development is a severely understudied area, even though an impaired emotional development is likely one of the underlying factors for problems in the social domain. Within our lab multiple research projects are being conducted aimed at studying various aspects of social-emotional development, and involving different age groups. These projects are conducted in close collaboration with the ENT department of the LUMC and with the NSDSK.

See our list of publications on deafness.

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Social Inclusion

Funded by NWO and Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) affiliated fellowships, this large-scale project aims to create an inclusive school setting for children and adolescents, including those with hearing loss or autism, during their unstructured leisure time at school, thus increasing the quality and quantity of their social interactions with peers. Click here for more information about this project.


Social Cognition in Infancyeye tracker

Deaf and hard-of-hearing children often experience difficulties concerning their theory of mind development. To date, most of the studies reporting this outcome were conducted with children age four or over. Yet, eye tracking makes it possible to assess children's socio-cognitive skills at a much earlier age. This technology provides the opportunity to assess whether deaf and hard-of-hearing children aready show impaired theory of mind in infancy or whether this develops later on as a result of impaired communication.

Besides theory of mind, we also study early moral development by examining whether deaf and hard-hearing infants differ from their hearing peers concerning their sense of fairness. In addition, we examine if and how early parent-child interaction is associated with infants' socio-cognitive abilities.

Researchers involved: Lizet Ketelaar, Evelien Broekhof, Carolien Rieffe 

This research is a collaboration with Professor Luca Surian from Trento University, Italy.


The Origins of Emotion Control

In order to interact with others properly, you need to be able to control your emotions. This involves the ability to acknowledge your own emotions and to know how to communicate these most effectively. For deaf and hard-of-hearing children this seems to be problematic but the origins of this lack of emotion control are unclear. Are these children more easliy aroused than their hearing peers? Do they lack insight into the communicative function of emotions? By using mood induction techniques and by varying the salience of a goal (i.e., reaching a personal or a social goal) we aim to study the origins of emotion control.

Researchers involved: Carolien Rieffe


Social-Emotional Outcomes Following Cochlear Implantation

Most deaf CI meisjeand severely hard-of-hearing children nowadays receive a cochlear implant. The literature has clearly proven that cochlear implants benefit children's language development. But what about its effect on social-emotional development? In a longitudinal study, multiple components of social-emotional functioning are examined in a sample of 1- to 5-year-old children with cochlear implants. Results thus far show that children with cochlear implants behave just as empathically towards others as hearing children. Yet, they fall behind on understanding others' emotions, theory of mind and moral development. We are currently examining how early (impairments in) emotional skills relate to later social functioning and psychopathology.

Project website: Emoties 1 tot 5 (in Dutch)

Researchers involved: Lizet Ketelaar, Carolien Rieffe, Anouk Netten

Funding: This research is funded by ZonMw.

Key publications:

  • Ketelaar, L., Rieffe, C., Wiefferink, C.H., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2013). Social competence and empathy in young children with cochlear implants and with normal hearing. The Laryngoscope, 123, 518-523.
  • Wiefferink, C.H., Rieffe, C., Ketelaar, L., De Raeve, L., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2013). Emotion understanding in deaf children with a cochlear implant. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 18,175-186.
  • Ketelaar, L., Rieffe, C., Wiefferink, C.H., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2012). Does hearing lead to understanding? Theory of mind in toddlers and preschoolers with cochlear implants. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37, 1041-1050.
  • Wiefferink, C.H., Rieffe, C., Ketelaar, L., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2012). Predicting social functioning in children with a cochlear implant and in normal-hearing children: The role of emotion regulation. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 76, 883-889.


Social-Emotional Outcomes in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Teenagers

Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are known to more often experience social difficulties and are at higher risk for psychopathology. This research aims to address which aspects of emotional functioning contribute to social development and to (symptoms of) psychopathology. In a longitudinal study, a group of 9- to 15-year-old deaf and hard-of-hearing children is compared to a group of hearing peers. Results thus far confirm that deaf and hard-hearing children experience higher leveld of anxiety and depression.

Project website: Kind en emotie (in Dutch)

Researchers involved: Carolien Rieffe, Stephanie Theunissen, Maartje Kouwenberg

Funding: This research is funded by a NWO Vidi grant to Carolien Rieffe.

Key publications:

  • Theunissen, S.C.P.M., Rieffe, C., Kouwenberg, M., De Raeve, L.J., Soede, W., Briaire, J.J., Frijns, J.H.M. (2014). Behavioral problems in school-aged hearing-impaired children: the influence of sociodemographic, linguistic, and medical factors. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 23, 187-196.
  • Rieffe, C. (2012). Awareness and regulation of emotions in deaf children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 30, 477-492.
  • Theunissen, S.C.P.M., Rieffe, C., Kouwenberg, M, De Raeve, L., Soede, W., Briaire, J.J., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2012). Anxiety in children with hearing aids or cochlear implants, compared to normally hearing controls. The Laryngoscope, 122, 654-659.
  • Theunissen, S.C.P.M., Rieffe, C., Kouwenberg, M, Soede, W., Briaire, J.J., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2011). Depression in hearing-impaired children. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 75, 1313-1317.


Participatory Video

(project concluded)video1

The project Hoe laat ik mijn wereld zien? (i.e., How do I show my world?) is a collaboration of our research group with trainer Ivet Pieper and the NSDSK. In this project, we develop a methodology to strengthen deaf and hard-of-hearing children's capacities by using participatory video methods (PV). PV strengthens children's capacity for emotional self-reflection and may have positive effects on their social and emotional development. The children who participate in this project learn how to create videos about their school, the classes they attend or the friends they play with. Through video, these children will become more aware of their own behaviour, how they present themselves, and the effect this has on others.

Project website: Dove kinderen maken video (in Dutch)

Researchers involved: Carolien Rieffe, Neeltje van den Bedem

Funding: This project is funded by VSB Fonds, Revalidatie Fonds, Maatschappij tot Nut van 't Algemeen

Key publications:

  • Rieffe, C., Pieper, I., Van den Bedem, N., Wolthuis, K, De Vries, M., & Uilenburg, N. (2014). Kijk mij nou; Participatieve Video met dove en slechthorende kinderen om sociaal bewustzijn te bevorderen. Van Horen Zeggen, 55, 10-18.


News Archive Deafness

More deaf or hard of hearing children participate in Portugal 19 Jul 2021
2nd Webinar on Chinese deaf or hard-of-hearing children 18 Jul 2021
How do children with hearing loss “read” emotional faces and social information? New papers now online! 05 January 2021
Webinar DHH Children’s Social-emotional Development 17 December 2020
New wave of data collection in China  27 November 2020
Yung-Ting successfully defended her PhD thesis 11 November 2020
Navigating the world of emotions: How do children with hearing loss do it? 09 November 2020
Inclusive Social Development in Schools 22 June 2020
Back in the Office! 18 June 2020
Anouk Won the Best Paper in 2019 09 June 2020
VNOP-CAS Research Days 26 November 2019
What is fair? Fairness decisions in adolescents; the effect of hearing loss  15 November 2019
Bobbie received MSc in Developmental Psychology 18 September 2019
Research presenations at the European conference on Developmental Psychology 03 September 2019
Keynote talk on emotion socialization in children with CI 17 July 2019
Evelien Broekhof defends her PhD dissertation 04 June 2019
Data collection started in China 28 May 2019
The nordic conference on hearing loss 18 March 2019
Nordic conference for professionals working with children with hearing loss 13 March 2019
The acoustic qualities of an inclusive school environment 07 March 2019
A cross-cultural perspective on emotion development 26 February 2019
Adva's talk on play in children with disabilities 25 February 2019
Social participation of deaf and hard-of-hearing children 11 February 2019
Lecture in Birmingham for teachers of DHH children 18 January 2019
Participate in our research! 10 November 2018
Evelien Dirks successfully defended her PhD research 19 October 2018
Sharing experiences with Chinese rehabilitation centre 01 October 2018
Interview with our new postdoc, Adva Eichengreen 09 August 2018
Early intervention for deaf & hard of hearing children 19 June 2018
Social participation in children with hearing loss 21 May 2018
Visiting our collaborating institutions in Beijing 20 May 2018
VNOP Conference 2018 17 May 2018
Social and emotional aspects of hearing loss 20 October 2017
Hard-of-hearing children and their psychosocial functioning 01 September 2017
Data collection in Taiwan 29 August 2017
Understanding how children with hearing loss interact 14 July 2017
Social skills in preschool children with hearing loss 04 July 2017
Congratulations, Dr. Anouk! 13 April 2017
KinderGebaren: a sign language app! 10 April 2017
Understanding emotion processing in CI children cross-culturally 24 March 2017
Lecture in Birmingham 13 January 2017
Paper Published: Empathy in Toddlers with Moderate Hearing Loss 07 December 2016
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