January 5th, 2021
Understanding emotions from other people’s faces and from social situations is essential for daily social interaction. But how is that for children with hearing loss? Can they learn to understand emotions just as easily as hearing children?Through a collaboration between Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Otorhinolaryngology (LUMC and Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital Taiwan), Yung-Ting’s unique eye-tracking studies show that daily "exposure" in the social environment in which emotions take place is essential for the development of this aspect of emotional intelligence. The results are now published in Emotion and Ear & Hearing.
While children with and without hearing loss exhibited the same gaze pattern focusing on the eyes when reading isolated emotional faces, children with hearing loss used a distinctive strategy from hearing children when processing dynamic, naturalistic social scenes, where they attended more to explicit visual cues such as a person’s body posture. Moreover, a contrast between happy and nonhappy faces was observed in children with hearing loss only: Nonhappy facial expressions were more physiologically arousing and were confused more often than happy expressions. These findings reflect that children with hearing loss adapt their visual strategy for emotion understanding according to the context to make better sense of their daily social environment. Yet they may still face difficulties understanding certain facial expressions and social situations because of their limited access to the social environment. To be able to benefit from their adapted strategies, extra support is essential to interpret emotional information in its social context.
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