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Social Referencing

Social referencing is the ability to (a) actively seek out the emotional expression of another person when encountering an unfamiliar or ambiguous situation, (b) refer the emotional expression to the situation or event in question, and (c) adjust one’s behavior according to this reaction. Social referencing helps individuals to figure out appropriate behavior in novel situations. This is especially relevant in potentially dangerous situations. Negative emotional expressions of others (e.g., fear, anger, and disgust) can help people to detect and avoid potential threats without having to directly put themselves in danger. As such, social referencing is an essential component of social learning. More often than adults, infants and young children are faced with situations that, for them, are unfamiliar and potentially ambiguous. Social learning ...

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