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Learning to Talk about Emotions: A Functionalist Perspective

Inge Bretherton, Janet Fritz, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler and Doreen Ridgeway
Child Development
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Jun., 1986), pp. 529-548
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130334
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130334
Page Count: 20
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Learning to Talk about Emotions: A Functionalist Perspective
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Abstract

Although the recent focus on functionalist theories of emotions has led to an upsurge of interest in many aspects of emotional development, not enough attention has been paid to young children's developing ability to talk about emotions. In this paper we attempt to place what is presently known about this topic into a framework that emphasizes the intrapsychic and interpersonal functions of emotion. We also consider suggestive evidence concerning the importance of the ability to talk about emotions in the conduct of interpersonal interaction. The paper concludes with some ideas on future directions for research, placing particular emphasis on a functionalist approach to the analysis of emotion-denoting terms.

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