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Research Summary

Hay, D (2013 - 2014) Emotion Regulation in Children at Familial Risk for Affective Disorders.  Medical Research Foundation.  £6,612.


The aim of the research is to undertake supplementary analyses of an existing set of video records of a community sample of 2- to 3-year-old children, in order to identify possible precursors to symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders in later childhood.  The video records were made in the context of an MRC-supported longitudinal study of infants’ social and emotional development, The Cardiff Child Development Study (CCDS; MRC Programme Grant GO200086)  The original aim of the study was to examine the normal developmental course of aggressive behaviour, with an aim of identifying precursors to later conduct symptoms.  Our initial analyses have demonstrated that infants’ behaviour at 6 months of age indeed predicts later aggressiveness and a broader range of conduct problems (Hay, Mundy, et al., 2011; Hay, Perra, et al., 2010; Hay, Waters, et al., under review), and we are now beginning an MRC-funded follow-up of the sample at 6-7 years of age (MRC Grant MR/J013366/1).  Our present aim is to undertake additional observational coding and analysis to explore possible precursors to the childhood emotional disorders, in the context of normative study of children’s expressions of anxiety, fear and sadness.  It is increasingly apparent that preschool-aged children may experience clinically significant emotional disorders (e.g., Wichstrøm et al., 2012), and so it is important to seek evidence for earlier signs of emotional dysregulation that might predispose a child to such disorders.