Sherri Widen, Ph.D.

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Department of Psychology

e-mail: widensh@bc.edu

Boston College

 

301 McGuinn Hall

Phone: 617 552-6768

140 Commonwealth Ave.

 

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Website: www2.bc.edu/~widensh

 

ResearchInterests

Emotion, Cognition, and Development: My research challenges the traditional view which assumes that children begin with adult-like concepts based on an understanding of facial expressions (sad face as sad, the scared face as scared, etc.) and need only acquire causes, consequences, and so on for each concept.  My research shows that the path to understanding emotion is long: Children begin with two broad and valence-based concepts (feels good vs. feels bad) which only gradually differentiate as children acquire adult-like emotion concepts.  At all ages, children have a systematic way of understanding emotion, including facial expressions, but that system is not adult-like for several years.

 

Education & Training

2009 - Present

Research Associate, Emotion Development Lab, Boston College

2005 - 2009

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Emotion Development Lab, Boston College

2001 - 2005

Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Boston College

 

Dissertation title: Preschoolers’ Use of Emotion Labels and Understanding of Emotion Categories

 

Advisor: James A. Russell, Ph.D.

1997 - 2000

M. A., Developmental Psychology, University of British Columbia

 

Thesis title: The Developmental Course of Children’s Free-Labeling Responses to Facial Expressions

 

Advisor: James A. Russell, Ph.D.

1992 - 1996

B. A., Psychology, University of British Columbia

 

Grants and Distinctions

2012

Co-PI (with James A. Russell) on 2 year grant under review at NICHD.  Title: Children’s Disgust Sensitivity and Understanding of Disgust

2012

Co-PI (with James A. Russell) on 3 year grant under review at NICHD.  Title: The Child’s Concept of Disgust

2010

Co-PI (with James A. Russell) on NSF grant awarded September 2010 (3 years).  Research funding for program of research on children’s understanding of emotion.  Title: Scripts: Children’s Understanding of Emotion

2005 - 2009

5 year post-doctoral fellowship, Boston College

2004 - 2010

Key collaborator on NSF grant (P.I.: James A. Russell) awarded June 2004.  Research funding for program of research on children’s understanding of emotion.  Title: Children's Understanding of Emotion.

2001 - 2004

Graduate student stipend, Boston College

2001 - 2004

Tuition scholarship, Boston College

2001

Research grant, University of British Columbia

1997- 2001

Graduate student stipend, University of British Columbia

1997

Graduate student stipend, York University

 

Departmental Service

2007-2009

Greater Faculty Committee, Chair.  Committee’s mission is to integrate adjunct professors and post-doctoral fellows into the department.

2009

Subject Pool Committee.  Committee determines the number of course participation credits students are required to do, and how many credits each department lab may have each semester.

2008

Department Website Committee.  Committee made decisions about the content and appearance of the new department webpage.

2002-2005

Graduate Research Day Committee, Department of Psychology, Boston College,.  Initiated, organized, and coordinated the annual department Graduate Research conference.

2001

Colloquium Committee, Department of Psychology, Boston College.  Helped to select and invite colloquium speakers, and to organize their visits.

2000-2001

Psychology Graduate Student Council, University of British Columbia.  Participated in the student council, and took responsibility colloquia preparations.

 

Publications

Google Scholar Citations: h-index: 9; Citations: 340

Widen, S. C., Pochedly, J. T.,* Pieloch, K. & Russell, J. A.  (in press).  Introducing the sick face.  Motivation & Emotion.

Kayyal, M. H.,* Widen, S. C., & Russell, J. A.  (in press).  What made Sahar scared?: Imaginary and realistic causes in Palestinian and American children. Cognition and Culture.

Yik, M., Widen, S. C., & Russell, J. A.  (2013).  The within-subject design in the study of facial expressions.  Cognition & Emotion. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.763769

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2013).  Children’s recognition of disgust in others.  Psychological Bulletin, 139, 271-299. doi: 10.1037/a0031640

Widen, S. C. (2013).  Children’s interpretation of facial expressions: the long path from valence-based to specific discrete categories.  Emotion Review, 5, 72-77. doi: 10.1177/1754073912451492

Pochedly, J. T.,* Widen, S. C., & Russell J. A.  (2012).  What emotion does the “facial expression of disgust” express? Emotion.  Advanced online publication.  doi: 10.1037/a0027998

Widen, S. C. & Naab, P.*  (2012).  Can an anger face also be scared? malleability of facial expressions.  Emotion.  Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026119

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2011).  In building a script for an emotion, do preschoolers add its cause before its behavior consequence?  Social Development, 20, 471-485.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2010.00594.x

Widen, S. C., Christy, A. M. Hewett, K., º & Russell, J. A.  (2011).  Do proposed facial expressions of contempt, shame, embarrassment, and sympathy communicate the predicted emotion?  Cognition and Emotion, 25, 898-906.  DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2010.508270

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A.  (2010).  Differentiation in preschoolers’ categories for emotion.  Emotion, 10, 651-661.  DOI: 10.1037/a0019005

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A.  (2010).  The “disgust face” conveys anger to children.  Emotion, 10, 455-466DOI:10.1037/a0019151

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2010).  Children’s scripts for social emotions: Causes and consequences are more central than are facial expressions.  British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28, 565-581. DOI: 10.1348/026151009X457550d

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2010).  Descriptive and prescriptive definitions of emotion.  Emotion Review, 2, 377-378.  DOI: 10.1177/1754073910374667

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2008). Children’s and adults’ understanding of the “disgust face.”  Cognition and Emotion, 22, 1513-1541.  DOI: 10.1080/02699930801906744

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2008). Young children's understanding of other's emotions.  In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 348-363). New York, NY: Guilford.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2008).  Children acquire emotion categories gradually. Cognitive Development, 23, 291-312.  DOI: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2008.01.002

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A.  (2004).  The relative power of an emotion’s facial expression, label, and behavioral consequences to evoke preschoolers’ knowledge of its cause.  Cognitive Development, 19, 111-125.  DOI: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2003.11.004

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2003).  A closer look at preschoolers’ freely produced labels for facial expressions.  Developmental Psychology, 39, 114-128.  DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.39.1.114

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2002).  Gender and preschoolers’ perception of emotion.  Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 48, 248-262.  DOI: 10.1353/mpq.2002.0013

Russell, J. A. & Widen, S. C.  (2002a).  Words versus faces in evoking children’s knowledge of the causes of emotions. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26, 97-103.  DOI: 10.1080/01650250042000582

Russell, J. A. & Widen, S. C.  (2002b). A Label Superiority Effect in children’s categorization of facial expressions.  Social Development, 11, 30-52.  DOI: 10.1111/1467-9507.00185

Invited Resubmissions

Widen, S. C. (2012).  Do Preschoolers understand filial love as a persisting emotion?  Cognitive Development, invited resubmission.

 

Submitted for Publication

Widen, S. C. & Nelson, N. L. (2013). Development of the recognition of pride in others.  Manuscript submitted.

Widen, S. C. (2013).  Preschoolers’ interpretation of emotion, texture, and novel labels: an emotion bias.  Manuscript submitted.

Kayyal, M. H.* & Widen, S. C.  (2013)Monsters and growling dogs: a dual-source theory of the child’s concept of fear.  Manuscript submitted.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2013).  Do dynamic facial expressions communicate emotions to children better than do still expressions?  Manuscript submitted.

Widen, S. C., Williams, M. & Nelson, N. L. (2013).  The “contempt face” expresses cognition, not contempt.  Manuscript submitted.

In Preparation

Widen, S. C., Gallucci, J. Acevedo, L.,º & Russell, J. A.  (2012)Body posture and contextual information are stronger cues to emotion than facial expressionManuscript in preparation.

Trauffer, N. Widen, S. C., & Russell, J. A. (2012).  Effect of college education on recognition of prototypical facial expressions of basic emotions.  Manuscript in preparation.

Nelson, N. L.* & Widen, S. C.  (2012)The development of preschoolers’ theory of mind and emotion understanding.  Manuscript in preparation.

* Co-authored with graduate student

º Co-authored with undergraduate student

Conference Presentations

Invited Speaker

Widen, S. C. (2012).  Children’s Understanding of Disgust.  Invited talk at the Evolution of Disgust Conference at the ZiF Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld, Germany.

Symposia & Papers

Widen, S. C. (organizer), Nelson, N. L.,* & Kayyal, M. H.* (2012). The effect of context on emotion judgments: From preschool to adulthood.  Symposium presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Toronto, ON.

Nelson, N. L.,* Widen, S. C., & Vanessa Castroº (2011).  Facial Expressions and Beyond: Children’s Understanding of Emotion Expressions Includes Multiple Components.  Symposium presented at SRCD, Montreal, QC.

Widen, S. C. (organizer), Nelson, N. L.,* & Mondloch, C. J. (2010).  The Effect of Context on Children’s Attribution of Emotion to Facial Expressions.  Symposium presented at the Conference on Human Development, New York City, NY.

Widen, S. C. (organizer), Danovitch, J., & Mumme, D. (2007). Children’s Understanding of Disgust: Expression, Elicitors, Contamination. Symposium presented at the 2007 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA.

Widen, S. C. (organizer), Larivier, L. A., & Guttentag, R. (2005). Piecemeal or wholesale: How do children acquire emotion concepts? Symposium presented at the 17th Annual American Psychological Society Convention, Los Angeles, CA.

Widen, S. C. (2003).  Free labeling of emotions by two- and three-year-olds: A face superiority effect.  Presented at the Second Annual Graduate Research Day, Boston College.

Widen, S. C. (2002).  Preschoolers’ interpretation of emotional facial expressions: A closer look at the free labeling task.  Presented at the First Annual Graduate Research Day, Boston College.

Widen, S. C. (2002).  Differentiation model of children’s understanding of emotion.  Presented at the Boston Emotion Research Lab.

Widen, S. C. (1999). Children’s free labeling responses to facial expressions: Is their difficulty with the task or the faces?  Presented at Pyscfest, University of British Columbia.

 

 





Selected Posters

Pochedly, J. T.,* Widen, S. C., & Russell J. A.  (2012). What Emotion Does the “Facial Expression of Disgust” Express? Presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference, San Diego, CA.

Nelson, N. L.* & Widen, S. C. (2011). Theory of Mind Development Predicts Preschoolers’ Use of Belief Words in Reasoning about Emotions.  Presented at the Cognitive Development Society Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Widen, S.C., & Russell, J.A. (2011). Are Good Boys Happy Victimizers?  Children’s Attributions of Emotion to Good- vs. Bad-Boys Following an Immoral Behavior.  Presented at SRCD, Montreal, QC.

Kayyal, M. H.,* Widen, S. C. & Russell, J.A. (2010). Palestinian and American Children’s Understanding of Fear.  Presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Emotion Preconference, Las Vegas, NV.

Widen, S.C., Christy, A. M., º & Russell, J.A. (2009). Raising Questions about the Recognition of New “Universally Recognized” Facial Expressions. Presented at the Association for Psychological Science Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Widen, S.C., & Russell, J.A. (2009). Do Children Understand that Parental Love Persists When the Child is Angry? Presented at SRCD, Denver, CO.

Widen, S.C. & Russell, J.A. (2008). Children’s Descriptions of the Causes and Consequences of Disgust Facial Expressions. Presented at the Association for Psychological Science Conference, Chicago, IL.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2007).  Fantasy vs. Reality: Young Children’s Understanding of Fear.  Poster presented at the 19th Annual Association for Psychological Science Convention, Washington, DC.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2007).  Children’s Understanding of Scripts for Basic-Level vs. Social Emotions.  Poster presented at the 2007 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2006).  Children’s Understanding of Anger and Disgust: ‘Confusions’ or Overlapping Categories?  Poster presented at the International Society for Research on Emotions Conference, Atlanta, 2006.

Naab, P.,* Widen, S. C., Christy, A. M. & Russell, J. A.  (2006)Gender stereotypes influence emotion attribution despite clear cues to emotion.  Poster presented at the 18th Annual American Psychological Society Convention, New York, NY.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2005). Do young children understand love as persisting? Presented at the 17th Annual American Psychological Society Convention, Los Angeles, CA.

 

Widen, S. C., Russell, J. A., & Brooks, A.* (2004). Anger and disgust: Discrete or overlapping categories?  Presented at the 16th Annual American Psychological Society Convention, Chicago, IL.

 Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2004). Preschoolers acquire emotion categories gradually.  Presented at the 18th Biennial Conference on Human Development (2004), Washington, DC.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (2002).  Preschoolers’ interpretation of emotional facial expressions: A closer look at the free labeling task.  Presented at the XII Conference of the International Society for Research on Emotion (2002), Cuenca, Spain.

Russell, J. A. & Widen, S. C. (2000). Centrality of words versus facial expressions in children's conception of emotion. Presented at the Jean Piaget Society Conference (2000), Montreal, QC.

Widen, S. C. & Russell, J. A. (1999). Words vs. facial expressions in children's categorization of emotions. Presented at American Psychological Association Conference (1999), Boston, MA.

* Co-authored with graduate student

º Co-authored with undergraduate student

 

Teaching

 

2006-2011

Instructor, Developmental Psychology, Boston College

 

Topics include developmental stages from infancy to adolescence, cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and self development.

Fall 2010

Instructor, Social Psychology, Boston College. 

 

Topics include behavior of individuals in social contexts (including social cognition, attitude formation and change, individual and group decision making, the self, prejudice, conformity, close relationships, helping).

Summer 2005

Instructor, Social and Emotional Development, Boston College. 

 

Topics include infant emotion recognition, attachment theory, children’s emotion understanding, and adolescent risk behavior and suicide.

Spring, 2005, Spring, 2010

Instructor, Culture and Emotion, Boston College. 

Topics include emotion theories and the role of culture in the experience of emotion.

Spring 2003, 2004. 

Co-Instructor (with Dr. James Russell), Culture and Emotion, Boston College.

Fall 2002, 2003

Guest lecturer, Introductory Psychology, Boston College. 

Introduction to the psychology of emotions.

1997 to 2001

Guest lecturer, Memory, University of British Columbia. 

 

Three-lecture series on the development of infant memory and the nature of infant amnesia.

1997 to 2001

Guest lecturer, Human Emotion, University of British Columbia.

 

Lectures included a series on children’s understanding and experience of emotion, a series on cultural influences on emotion, and a series on romantic love.

Teacher Training

2007

Attended the 2nd SRCD Biennial Developmental Science Teaching Institute. 

 

Sessions included use of life story narrative in teaching, using stories from our own research experiences and stories about others’ research to help capture students’ interest.

2005

Attended the 1st SRCD Biennial Developmental Science Teaching Institute. 

 

Sessions included better use of PowerPoint in lectures, new paradigm for teaching Piaget, brain development and plasticity.

 

 

Ad Hoc Reviewer

 

British Journal of Developmental Psychology

Child Development

Cognition & Emotion

Cognitive Development

Developmental Psychology

Emotion

Emotion Review

European Review of Applied Psychology

Infant and Child development

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Sex Roles

Social Development

 

Professional Organizations

Member, American Psychological Society, since 2002

Member, International Society for Research on Emotions, since 2003

Member, Society for Research in Child Development, since 2004

Member, Jean Piaget Society, since 2004

Member, Cognitive Development Society, since 2007

 


References

James A. Russell, Advisor

Department of Psychology

Boston College

617-552-4546

james.russell@bc.edu

Linda Camras

Department of Psychology

DePaul University

773-325-4261

lcamras@depaul.edu

 

 

 

Ellen Winner, Professor

Department of Psychology

Boston College

617-552-4118

winner@bc.edu