Blackwell Scientific on behalf of the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research vol:57 issue:5 pages:440-451
Background. The measurement of subjective well-being in people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities is a difficult challenge. Since they cannot self-report about their life satisfaction, due to severe communicative and cognitive limitations, behavioural observations of their emotions and moods are important in the measurement of their subjective well-being. It is however not known if observations of mood and emotion can be differentiated in people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities and if mood and emotions can give unique information about their affect. Therefore the aim of this study is to examine the relationship between mood and emotions in people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, using behavioural observations. As recommended in the literature, we investigated the frequency and intensity of the emotion separately.
Method. In a period of three weeks 27 participants with severe and profound intellectual disabilities were presented with four staff-selected negative and four staff-selected positive stimuli. During the presentation participants were videotaped using the observational method of Petry & Maes (2006) where each behaviour is coded on a 5-point scale, ranging from indicating a very negative emotion to indicating a very positive emotion. As a measure of mood, the staff completed the MIPQ (Ross & Oliver, 2003) in the beginning of the three weeks.
Results. We found a positive relationship between mood and respectively the total emotion score and the frequency of the emotion when the stimuli were positive but not when the stimuli were negative. There was no relationship between mood and the intensity of the emotion.
Our results indicate that mood and emotions can be distinguished from each other using behavioural observations. Both can give specific information about the affective life of people with severe or profound intellectual disabilities. Moreover, if further research could replicate the results of this study, an implication is that the direct support workers should be aware of a decline in the frequency of their clients reactions to positive stimuli since this could indicate a decline in their mood.