Research Paper - Journal of Child and Adolescent Health (2018) Volume 2, Issue 2
Assessment of emotional responses in preschoolers to an age-adapted stress task: Picture-based stress test and facial coding.
Objective: Acute stress exposure leads to physiological, behavioral and emotional stress responses. While measurements of physiological stress responses in young children have improved, assessments of correlates of emotional responses to stress in children at preschool age are still limited to the coding of video-taped responses and their validity is questionable. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop and investigate a method to assess correlates of emotional responses to stress by experienced emotional responses (Picture-Stress-Test, PST) and by facial expressed emotional responses.
Method: A total of 295 children aged 2–6 years of the SPLASHY study were assessed during an age-adapted stress task by heart rate variability, by videotapes (coded for positive and negative facial expression) and by the assessment of experienced emotional states at baseline, during the stress task and after the stress task. For this purpose, children were asked to estimate their own emotional state and to choose one of five pictures of rabbits with different emotional states (positive (happy) or negative (angry, anxious, stressed and sad)) depending on the estimated subjective emotional state.
Results: Both correlates of emotional responses and heart rate variability significantly changed under stress condition. Children showed lower levels of positive states in the PST and in the videotaped material during the stress task.
Conclusion: Measures of experienced emotional responses and of facial expression responses might represent valuable methods that could be combined to catch the broad range of correlates of emotional responses to a stress task in preschool children.Author(s): Stulb K, Messerli-Burgy N, Kakebeeke TH, Arhab A, Zysset AE, Leeger-Aschmann CS, Schmutz EA, Meyer AH,Bechtler B, Schneider S, Kriemler S, Jenni OG, Puder JJ, Munsch S