The Affective Tigger is primarily targeted at three to five year old children. This is the pre-operational age at which emotional development is most dramatic, and at which age an affective educational toy may have the most impact. The target child that will find the Affective Tigger engaging is one who already has a sense of emotional recognition, a limited ability to express emotions of her own, and is just beginning to develop a sense of `self' that is distinct from `other'. Such a child is learning to play and cooperate with other children, and the Affective Tigger may help to teach her about empathy and compassion.
There are no specific motor or language skills necessary to play with the Affective Tigger. A child who can not recognize the expressions of the Affective Tigger, may enjoy playing with him but she may not know why. She may even learn all the proper responses to the Affective Tigger's various moods long before she has either an understanding of or a name for these feelings.
In my study, I found that the three year olds didn't understand the interaction or have any response beyond the fascination with a new toy. The five year-olds seemed already advanced beyond the skills and intentions of the Affective Tigger, but an interesting secondary group of teen aged children found the Affective Tigger to be engaging. From this, I hypothesize that there may be a second wave of emotional development in the teenage years that echo back to the lessons learned the first time around.
The most interesting reactions I found were among the four year-olds. They seemed absolutely fascinated with the ability to make the Affective Tigger unhappy. As opposed to a sign of an abusive child, it seems to be a developmental phase that children go through as they discover the power they wield over the emotions of `others'.
Although [four year olds] become more adept at comforting and relieving distress, they also become more adept at provoking distress by teasing, hurting and annoying other children and adults. This combination of sympathy and spite arises as young children begin to identify the conditions or actions that will start or stop an emotional state in another person [Harris, 1989].
It is interesting to think of teasing as a form of changing the emotional state of the other. Even more interesting is the notion that a child will `experiment' with the emotions of others in this manner.