Deaf Children's Understanding of Emotions: Desires Take Precedence



Deaf children frequently have trouble understanding other people's emotions. It has been suggested that an impaired theory of mind can account for this. This research focused on the spontaneous use of mental states in explaining other people's emotions by 6- and 10-year-old deaf children as compared to their hearing peers. Within both age-groups deaf children referred to others' beliefs as often as their hearing peers and their references to desires even exceeded those of hearing children. This relative priority for the expression of desires is discussed in terms of possible communicative patterns of deaf children. The specific problems that deaf children meet in their daily communication might explain their abundance of desire-references: plausibly, they give a high priority to stress their own desires and needs unambiguously.