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Display Rules for Anger, Sadness, and Pain: It Depends on Who Is Watching

Janice Zeman and Judy Garber
Child Development
Vol. 67, No. 3 (Jun., 1996), pp. 957-973
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131873
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131873
Page Count: 17
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Display Rules for Anger, Sadness, and Pain: It Depends on Who Is Watching
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Abstract

This study examined factors that may influence children's decisions to control or express their emotions including type of emotion (anger, sadness, physical pain), type of audience (mother, father, peer, alone), age, and sex. Children's reported use of display rules, reasons for their decisions, and reported method of expression were examined. Subjects were 32 boys and 32 girls in each of the first (M = 7.25 years old), third (M = 9.33 years old), and fifth grades (M = 11.75 years old). Regardless of the type of emotion experienced, children reported controlling their expression of emotion significantly more in the presence of peers than when they were with either their mother or father or when they were alone. Younger children reported expressing sadness and anger significantly more often than did older children, and girls were more likely than boys to report expressing sadness and pain. Children's primary reason for controlling their emotional expressions was the expectation of a negative interpersonal interaction following disclosure.

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