Developments in Expression: Affect and Speech
Lois Bloom Teachers College, Columbia University
Affect and speech are two modes of expression for making known to others the contents of our feelings, beliefs, and desires. Whereas affect expression is available from the beginning of life, language has to be learned. Two questions concerning the developmental relation between these two modes of expression guided the research that is discussed in this chapter. The first began with the observation that many aspects of affect expression are already in place before language development begins and asked whether the expression of affect facilitates the emergence of speech in the second year of life. The second asked how affect and speech are integrated developmentally so that infants say words at the same time that they express positive or negative emotion. Four studies are reviewed here from a longitudinal investigation of the development of a group of 12 infants from 9 to about 30 months of age. In the first study, individual differences in the infants' age of language achievements were correlated with individual differences among them in the frequency of nonneutral affect expression and time spent in neutral affect expression. More time in neutral expression and less frequent emotional expression were associated with earlier language achievements. In the second study, different developmental trends in affect expression from 9 to 21 months were found for infants who also differed in their profiles of language development. In the third study, we looked at the words that the children said and the valence and intensity of affect that was expressed at the same time. And in the last study reviewed here, the kinds of meanings that could be attributed to the children's linguistic and emotional expressions are described (a) at the beginning of the single-word period when expression was predominantly affective, and (b) at the end of the period when the children were saying words as often as they expressed emotion. The results of these several studies are discussed in terms of the cognition required for emotional expression and language learning in early language development.