Rethinking the development of “nonbasic” emotions: a critical review of existing theories

R. Draghi-Lorenz, Vasu Reddy, Alan Costall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to most theorists, “nonbasic” emotions such as shame, guilt, pride, and jealousy do not emerge until the 2nd year of life, despite limited evidence for this proposition. Critical examination of the major theories of emotional development reveals that this belief stems from the assumption that young infants are incapable of interpersonal awareness and that this incapacity is invariably explained in terms of lack of representational skills. Only those theorists who credit infants with interpersonal awareness accept that infants might display “nonbasic” emotions, yet nearly all of these theorists also assume that such awareness is indirect and inevitably representation-mediated. Building upon the few exceptions, a relational alternative is also outlined which can account for the possibility of early “nonbasic” emotions while avoiding the logical problems of representationalist explanations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-304
Number of pages42
JournalDevelopmental Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2001


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