Attribution of Emotions to Story Characters by Severely and Profoundly Deaf Children

  • Colin Gray
  • Judith Hosie
  • Phil Russell
  • Christine Scott
  • Norma Hunter


Simple stories were presented to severely or profoundly prelingually deafened children and hearing controls in two age groups. Participants were asked to choose the appropriate emotion for the central characters. While at either age level, the hearing children's success rate was significantly higher than that of the deaf children, the older deaf children showed a marked improvement compared with the younger deaf children. In each age group, the profiles of the average scores of the deaf children over the six emotions studied were similar to those of their hearing peers, suggesting that the deaf children found the same emotions easier (or more difficult) to assign to the story characters. It would appear that deaf and hearing children code their emotional experiences using the same categories, which are progressively refined with age. The developmental delay in deaf children's emotional understanding is interpreted in terms of the social experience of the deaf child of hearing parents, which affords limited opportunity to discuss emotional causality.

Key Words

deafness story understanding facial expressions emotion 



The authors wish to thank Mairi Macaulay (Head Teacher), Margaret Falconer, Joan Grant, and the other teachers at the Aberdeen School for the Deaf for their help at all stages of the research and for their unfailing support and encouragement. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC: Grant Number R000236272).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Gray
    • 1
    • 2
  • Judith Hosie
    • 1
  • Phil Russell
    • 1
  • Christine Scott
    • 1
  • Norma Hunter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AberdeenScotlandU.K.
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Aberdeen, King’s College, Old AberdeenScotlandU.K.

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