Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Measuring emotional competence across cultures in children and adolescents from 1 to 15 years old

Development and validation of instruments that can measure different aspects of emotional competence in children with normal and atypical development, and in different cultures

Carolien Rieffe


These validation studies are part of the ‘Emotion Focus Group’, which is focused on social and emotional competence in children and adolescents who have communicative impairments, such as children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH), children with Specific Language Impairments (SLI), and children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

see www.focusonemotions.nl


Dutch Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child (NSDSK), Amsterdam

University of Chieti, Italy

University of Evora, Portugal

Emotional competence consists of many aspects, i.e. emotion awareness, emotion recognition, emotion regulation, empathy. For many of these aspects, it is difficult to find appropriate instruments, that we can also apply to clinical groups. For example, the emotion regulation strategy “When I want to calm down, I want to listen to music” might be less suitable for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). Complex grammar constructions might disadvantage children who have more difficulties with reading a text, as if often the case for children with SLI (severe language impairments), DHH, and/or ASD (autism spectrum disorder), preventing the researcher from obtaining scores on the intended concept.

Besides self-reports for children from 10 years and older, we also developed parent report, teacher report, and observation and laboratory tasks. For example a task for facial emotion recognition was made nonverbal, so we could indeed test this skill in toddlers with language impairments without disadvantaging them.

Many of our self-reports for children from 10 – 15 years of age have been translated and validated in other languages (Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese) and can be downloaded for free from our website www.focusonemotions.nl.

Additionally, norm scores on many of these measures have been computed for normally developing Dutch children, and also separately for Dutch children with ASD, SLI, and/or who are DHH. These norm scores are used in the EmotionWeb for which Dutch professionals can register, receive a training, and use the site to test and compute scores for an individual child. See www.emotieweb.nl

Connection with other research