This is What Happens When Toddlers See You Angry

A new study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences is examining how children respond when adults get angry.

In the video above we see a 15 month old toddler named Adrien. The video starts with him playing, like toddlers do, with various toys. The woman administering the test then begins playing with a “test object”, beads and a cup. A second woman comes in the room and speaks in an angry tone about the beads. After the beads and cup are passed to the toddler, he does not play with them he simply watches the angry woman’s face for reaction. It’s apparent he’s trying to not upset her.

The trial provides insight into how early children pick up on emotions from adults in their lives. If you’re angry, your toddler will adjust his or her behavior in order to avoid provoking you.

Some users who saw the video asked if the toddler played with the beads after the ‘angry woman’ left the room, this is their response. “We actually did offer the child the beads/cup after the “angry” researcher left the room. He paused, looked up at his mom (that’s called “social referencing”) and then put the beads in the cup. It was cute. We didn’t include it in this video, because it wasn’t part of the original experiment. Also, in case you’re interested, the mom in the video wrote a story for our website saying what it was like to be in the experiment and how her son reacted to seeing the Emoter after the experiment was over: