Self-recognition and emotional knowledge

Michael Lewis, Nicholas J. Minar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-recognition emerges during the second year of life and represents the emergence of a reflective self, a metacognition which underlies self-conscious emotions such as embarrassment and shame, perspective taking, and emotional knowledge of others. In a longitudinal study of 171 children, two major questions were explored from an extant database: 1) Do early factors, including IQ, general environmental risk, mother-child attachment interaction, drug exposure, gender, and neonatal risk, relate to self-recognition?; 2) Does self-recognition, along with these earlier factors, predict the child’s subsequent emotional knowledge? Consistent with previous data, 39% of children exhibited self-recognition by 18-months and few early factors explored were related to this ability. Moreover, path analysis revealed few effects of the earlier factors predicting self-recognition on children’s emotional knowledge. Self-recognition did predict emotional knowledge at 4.5 years, such that children who showed early self-recognition showed greater emotional knowledge. Children from high risk environments also showed lower emotional knowledge. These findings indicate that self-recognition and environmental risk are related to children’s later knowledge of emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Cognitive Development
  • Emotion Recognition
  • Facial Expression
  • Self-concept
  • Typical Development


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