Emotion dynamics in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic and descriptive review

Anne Margit Reitsema*, Bertus F. Jeronimus, Marijn van Dijk, Peter de Jonge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
1345 Downloads (Pure)


Theories on children and adolescents emotion dynamics were reviewed using data from 102 ecological momentary assessment studies with 19.928 participants and 689 estimates. We examined age-graded differences in emotional intensity, variability, instability, inertia, differentiation, and augmentation/blunting. Outcomes included positive versus negative affect scales, discrete emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, and happiness), and we compared samples of youth with or without mental or physiological problems. Multi-level models showed more variable positive affect and sadness in adolescents compared to children, and more intense negative affect. Our additional descriptive review suggests a decrease in instability of positive and negative emotions from early to late adolescence. Mental health problems were associated with more variable and less intense positive affect, and more intense anxiety and heightened sadness variability. These results suggest systematic changes in emotion dynamics throughout childhood and adolescence, but the supporting literature proved to be limited, fragmented, and based on heterogeneous concepts and methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-396
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Emotions
  • Augmentation
  • Blunting
  • Emotion dynamics
  • Psychopathology
  • Variability
  • Differentiation
  • Instability
  • Intertia
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Happiness
  • Intensity
  • Positive Affect
  • Negative Affect
  • Diary design
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment

Cite this