Date of Award

8-2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Janice Zeman

Second Committee Member

Michele Alexander

Third Committee Member

Cynthia A. Erdley

Abstract

The present study was designed to examine the relationship between children's ability to manage emotional expressions and peer acceptance. Specifically, using a mild mood induction paradigm, children between the ages of 8- to 10-years were instructed to neutralize and dissemble genuinely negative emotions. Children's ability to effectively manage their negative emotional expressions was then examined with respect to gender differences and in relation to peer acceptance ratings. Results indicated that girls were significantly better than boys at substituting positive expressions for genuine negative ones, were marginally worse than boys at neutralizing negative expressions, and overall were significantly more expressively positive than boys. With respect to social acceptance, findings revealed that the ability to neutralize negative expressions was significantly related to overall acceptance ratings for boys. For girls, the ability to substitute positive expressions for genuinely negative ones was significantly related to peer acceptance as rated only by girls. Taken together, these results support the general hypothesis that the ability to manage emotional expressions is an important component in children's social functioning.

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