Authors: Maciel M. Hernández and Nancy Eisenberg

Title: Children’s emotion expressivity in school: Associations with school and social outcomes

Abstract: Although research has documented associations between emotions and academic outcomes in adolescence and adulthood, questions remain about the presence of similar associations among younger children. The PEERS research team at Arizona State University, led by Carlos Valiente and Nancy Eisenberg, has examined how children’s observed emotional expressions in school relate to both social relationships with others in school and academic functioning in a longitudinal multi-method study. In this presentation, a series of findings following three themes will be highlighted. First, findings suggesting that observed emotion expressivity in school relates to academic outcomes either directly or indirectly via social competence will be presented. For instance, positive and negative emotions expressed in school indirectly predicted academic functioning via peer acceptance and teacher–student relationship quality during the kindergarten academic year (Hernández et al., 2016). Negative emotion expressivity trajectories, from kindergarten to first grade, also predicted academic functioning such that declining trajectories was associated with higher academic functioning (Hernández et al., in press). Second, some support for temperament-by-temperament interactions related to school outcomes will be highlighted. For example, the association between children’s negative expressivity and teacher–student conflict or school engagement was strongest for children with low to moderate levels of effortful control (Diaz et al., 2017); the association was null for those with high levels of effortful control. Finally, research will be presented on how the associations between emotion expressivity and school outcomes (Hernández et al., in press) or social competence with peers in school (Hernández et al., 2017) are more pronounced for children with higher academic risk factors. Future research directions on children’s emotion expressivity in school and addressing factors that can improve the educational prospects of children will be discussed.


Diaz, A., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., VanSchyndel, S. K., Spinrad, T. L., Berger, R. H., . . . Southworth, J. (2017). Relations of positive and negative expressivity and effortful control to kindergarteners’ student-teacher relationship, academic engagement, and externalizing problems at school. Journal of Research in Personality, 67, 3-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2015.11.002

Hernández, M. M., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., Diaz, A., VanSchyndel, S. K., Berger, R. H., . . . Southworth, J. (2017). Concurrent and longitudinal associations of peers’ acceptance with emotions and effortful control in kindergarten. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 41, 30–40. doi: 10.1177/0165025415608519

Hernández, M. M., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., Thompson, M. S., VanSchyndel, S. K., Spinrad, T. L., . . . Gal, D. E. (in press). Trajectories of the expression of negative emotion from kindergarten to first grade: Associations with academic outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology. doi: 10.1037/edu0000213

Hernández, M. M., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., VanSchyndel, S. K., Spinrad, T. L., Silva, K. M., . . . Southworth, J. (2016). Emotional expression in school context, social relationships, and academic adjustment in kindergarten. Emotion, 16, 553-566. doi: 10.1037/emo0000147