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Mood assessment via animated characters: An instrument to access and evaluate emotions in young children

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Author(s): Katharina Manassis | Sandra Mendlowitz | Annie Dupuis | David Kreindler | Charles Lumsden | Suneeta Monga | Carly Guberman

Journal: Open Journal of Psychiatry
ISSN 2161-7325

Volume: 03;
Issue: 01;
Start page: 149;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Anxiety | Children | Perception of Emotion | Computer Animation | Assessment

ABSTRACT
Objective: Mood Assessment via Animated Characters (MAAC) is a novel, computer-based instrument to improve assessment and communication about feelings in young children with internalizing distress. Well-validated assessment instruments are lacking for those under age eight years. Method: Children ages 4 - 10 years with primary diagnosis of anxiety disorder (n = 74; 33 boys, 41 girls) or no diagnosis (n = 83; 40 boys, 43 girls) completed MAAC for 16 feelings. Those 8 - 10 years also completed standardized measures of internalizing symptoms. Results: MAAC’s emotions clustered into positive, negative, fearful, and calm/neutral factors. Clinical children rated themselves less positive (difference score -3.18; p = 0.002) and less calm/neutral (difference score -2.06; p = 0.04), and explored fewer emotions spontaneously (difference score = -2.37; p = 0.02) than nonanxious controls. Older children’s responses correlated with scores on several standardized measures. Conclusions: MAAC appears to be highly engaging, with clinical utility in the assessment of young anxious children. Applications in other populations are considered for future study.
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