Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors
Dr. Robert Althoff, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Eugene Delay, Ph.D.
Tobacco, exposure, emotion identification, child, development, social
Although the physical effects of tobacco on an individual are well-known, the impacts that smoking has on social skills of family members are less understood. The ability for children to identify emotions is crucial for normal social functioning, and the impact of parental tobacco use during child development of this skill is not known. The proposed research compares parent-reported tobacco use to child emotion identification ability (EIA). Information regarding parental tobacco use history was gathered from a structured diagnostic interview of DSM-IV symptoms called the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Child EIA was assessed using a paradigm called Emotional Faces, which presented photos of faces expressing different emotions at different strengths. Ability was determined based on the percentage of emotions that the child correctly identified. Exposure to parental smoking both during childhood and prior to birth was related to significantly lower child EIA compared to the EIA of children whose parents never smoked, while covariates of gender, SES, birth weight, race, and ethnicity were not significant. However, there was a significant main effect of age which, when added to the model, overwhelmed the significance of parental smoking on EIA. Upon further investigation into EIA for carrying strengths of emotion expressions, significant differences in EIA were found between children whose parents had never used tobacco, and those whose parents has used tobacco during the first decade of the child’s life for child identification of moderate amounts of emotion (expression strengths of 60% and 40%), regardless of the effect of age. No significant differences were found among the groups for the stronger expression strengths of 100 and 80. The findings of this study suggest that parental tobacco use during the early years of a child’s life when social skills are developing may negatively impact the child’s EIA, especially in situations where they are presented with more ambiguous emotional information. As more is understood about the familial impacts from tobacco use, more effective cessation programs can be developed, and better interventions for children with decreased EIA can be explored.
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Giroux, Allison R., "Parental Tobacco Use: Impact on Child Emotion Identification Ability" (2016). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 104.