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How many different emotion words can middle schoolers think of to describe major categories of emotional experiences? While most existing ability tests of emotion understanding and vocabulary are based on word recognition, the goal of this study was to assess prompted emotion word generation. Students in 5th-8th grades (N=236) were asked to list all feeling words they can think of to describe five major emotion groups (happiness, calm, sadness, anger and nervousness). They also completed an ability measure of emotion understanding, the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test – Youth Version (MSCEIT-YV). When asked to generate emotion descriptors, students produced a range of responses, from specific target emotion words (e.g., joy and pleasure describing the ‘happy’ category), to descriptors of closely associated emotions (e.g., love and pride describing the ‘happy category), to non-emotion descriptors (e.g., laughing or dancing describing the ‘happy’ category). Students produced 1472 unique responses (M=27.3, SD=10.9), with target emotion responses accounting for 22.4 % of responses (M=12.23, SD=4.8). Most target emotion responses were generated for the happiness-related feelings (54 different terms), and the fewest for calm-related feelings (25 terms). Older students and girls performed better on both measures of emotion understanding. Positive correlations were found between the scores on MSCEIT-YV scale and the overall number of target emotion responses, r=.25, p<.01, as well as the overall number of associated emotion responses, r=.19, p<.01. This study offers an important approach to learning about emotion vocabulary by providing an insight into emotion word generation among early adolescents.

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Breadth of Emotion Vocabulary in Middle Schoolers

How many different emotion words can middle schoolers think of to describe major categories of emotional experiences? While most existing ability tests of emotion understanding and vocabulary are based on word recognition, the goal of this study was to assess prompted emotion word generation. Students in 5th-8th grades (N=236) were asked to list all feeling words they can think of to describe five major emotion groups (happiness, calm, sadness, anger and nervousness). They also completed an ability measure of emotion understanding, the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test – Youth Version (MSCEIT-YV). When asked to generate emotion descriptors, students produced a range of responses, from specific target emotion words (e.g., joy and pleasure describing the ‘happy’ category), to descriptors of closely associated emotions (e.g., love and pride describing the ‘happy category), to non-emotion descriptors (e.g., laughing or dancing describing the ‘happy’ category). Students produced 1472 unique responses (M=27.3, SD=10.9), with target emotion responses accounting for 22.4 % of responses (M=12.23, SD=4.8). Most target emotion responses were generated for the happiness-related feelings (54 different terms), and the fewest for calm-related feelings (25 terms). Older students and girls performed better on both measures of emotion understanding. Positive correlations were found between the scores on MSCEIT-YV scale and the overall number of target emotion responses, r=.25, p<.01, as well as the overall number of associated emotion responses, r=.19, p<.01. This study offers an important approach to learning about emotion vocabulary by providing an insight into emotion word generation among early adolescents.

http://elischolar.library.yale.edu/dayofdata/2014/Posters/6