Peterson, C., & Biggs, M. (2001). ‘I was really, really, really mad!’: Children’s use of evaluative devices in narratives about emotional events. Sex Roles, 45, 801-826.
Children (ages 3, 5, and 8 years, mostly White and middle-class) were asked to tell personal experience narratives about a time when they had been happy, surprised, and mad. Their explicit emotion labels as well as their use of linguistic forms of evaluation to convey emotion were assessed. Five year old boys were the most likely to explicitly label anger, while gender and age differences in explicit emotion labels were absent for the other two emotions. However, children used many more linguistic devices for providing evaluation than explicit emotion labels in their narratives. They also provided more with age, and they used more evaluative devices when talking about anger-arousing events than about happy or surprising events. The few gender differences suggested that 3 year old girls may acquire earlier mastery of evaluative devices than boys, especially references to emotional states.