The Role of Situation and Child Status on Emotional Interaction
Michael Lewis Margaret W. Sullivan University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Differences in socialization practices related to emotional expression and their states can be explored, at least in the early months of life, by focusing on the interactions between mothers and infants in families with normal infants and with infants who have disabilities. The focus of this chapter on emotional interchanges is based on the premise that the integration of emotional expressions, states, and experiences arise, in part, out of the interaction of the child with his or her caregivers ( Lewis, 1981; Lewis & Michalson, 1983). The socialization practices of families may be studied in a variety of ways, one being the study of the interaction between mothers and their infants in regard to emotional expression. This is because we believe that meaning or emotional experiences of infants and children are developed through understanding their, as well as others, behavior in context. Infants and adults construct meaning through the observation of behavior in context ( Lewis & Michalson, 1982a, 1982b). This observation takes place through affective exchanges in the daily interactions between child and caregivers. Emotional expressions are observed by both receiver and sender through contextual variables. The responses of the other and their anticipated response are based on previous experience and the actual intent of the sender's and the receiver's perception of that intent in interaction. In addition, both may use the clues made salient by the situation.