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Sulking behavior and the emergence of hurt feelings in young children (advance online)

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Hardecker,  David J. K.
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

Schmidt,  Marco F. H.
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Haun,  Daniel B. M.
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Hardecker_Sulking_SocDev_2021.pdf
(Publisher version), 515KB

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Citation

Hardecker, D. J. K., Schmidt, M. F. H., & Haun, D. B. M. (2021). Sulking behavior and the emergence of hurt feelings in young children (advance online). Social Development. doi:10.1111/sode.12553.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-6B27-4
Abstract
When do hurt feelings develop? The emotion of feeling hurt is vital for close relationships because it signals that one has been devalued illegitimately, potentially eliciting guilt and the motivation to repair in the partner. We approached the question of when hurt feelings develop by studying the emergence of sulking behavior as an indicator of hurt feelings. In an online-questionnaire study, parents and teachers hypothesized that children begin to sulk during the first 3 years (N = 125). In a cross-sectional event-based diary study, parents observed their 1- to 8-year-old children (N = 40). We found that the youngest child sulked at 20 months of age and that the probability of sulking was at 50% for a child at 25 months. Finally, we conducted a longitudinal event-based diary study where parents observed their children from 16 months on until they sulked for the first time and, at the longest, until their third birthday (N = 29). We found that the probability of sulking was at 25% at 21 months, at 50% for a child at 24–25 months, and at 75% at 28 months, thus, confirming and specifying the results of studies 1 and 2. These findings indicate that the emotion of hurt feelings emerges mainly during the end of the second and the third year. We discuss the limitations of our approach and why and how the development of hurt feelings in the sense of an appraisal needs to be addressed differently.