Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 301–326 | Cite as

Display rule behavior and understanding in preschool children

  • Ingrid E. Josephs


Display rule behavior and understanding were compared in 72 4- to 6-year-old boys and girls. In Study 1, children listened to stories in which the protagonist was in a positive or in a negative mood. The motivation to hide his or her emotional state was either prosocial or self-centered. Stories with no discrepancy between feeling and expression were included as a control condition. Subjects were asked to identify the protagonist's real feelings and facial expression. Older children were more accurate than younger ones in recognizing that real and apparent emotions did not coincide in the self-centered and prosocial stories. Girls produced more correct answers than boys in the prosocial condition. In Study 2, children were examined in a situation in which they were expected to hide their disappointment about an unattractive gift. They were either observed (social situation) or not observed (nonsocial situation) by the experimenter when receiving the gift. Irrespective of age, preschoolers regulated their nonverbal behavior appropriately in the social situation. The comparison of both data sets revealed that even younger preschoolers follow display rules in their behavior before fully grasping the distinction between real and apparent emotions.


Social Psychology Facial Expression Correct Answer Emotional State Preschool Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid E. Josephs
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PsychologyRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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