Focus: Lifespan Development
Thesis Advisor: Cathy Mondloch
Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in honors psychology, Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario
Adults and children participate in many social interactions on a daily basis and many of these interactions require us to identify how a person is feeling in order to respond appropriately. For example, it is adaptive to identify when a friend is sad so you know when to console them. However, emotions are not always easy to detect as they occur within a context and vary in intensity. My research focuses on the development of children's sensitivity to facial expressions in visual scenes more reflective of everyday social interactions. Specifically, I am examining whether the emotion displayed in another's body posture and the background scene affect a child's identification of the facial expression.
Recently, researchers found that adults' perceptions of facial displays are affected by body poses. Adults are better at identifying a facial expression when the body and facial expression are congruent than when the body expression and facial expressions are incongruent. Less is known about the development of children's sensitivity to facial expressions within the above-mentioned contexts. I have adapted methods used in previous adult studies to test these effects in 7 and 8 year olds. I am also interested in the development of children's sensitivity to emotional expressions that are subtle, such as when someone is only feeling a bit happy, or ambiguous, such as when someone masks fear by smiling. To test this, I use a software program to morph intense facial expressions with neutral expressions or two intense expressions with each other. I hope that my research will provide valuable insights about how children use facial displays of emotions in their daily social interactions.
Conference Presentations :
Longfield, D.H., Thomson, K.M., & Mondloch, C.J. (2009, May) Sensitivity to posed versus genuine expressions: Are children easily fooled? Poster presented at the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society, Naples, FL.
Short, L.A., Longfield, D.H., Talvitie, P., & Mondloch, C.J. (2009, May). Forgetting faces in a crowd: Faster memory decay for other-race faces? Poster presented at the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society, Naples, FL.
Tsang, C.D., Longfield, D.H., Myles, N.A., & Morton, J.B. (2007, June). The melody is in the words: The effects of simultaneous linguistic and musical information on infant perception for music and language. Poster presented at the 17th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behavioural and Cognitive Science, Victoria, BC.
Longfield, D.H. (20007, May). Auditory processing during infancy: Are language and music processed hand in hand? Paper presented at the 37th Annual Ontario Psychology Undergraduate Thesis Conference, Toronto, ON.