Maternal emotional expressiveness affects preschool children’s development of knowledge of display rules

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Xixian Wu
Yifang Wang
Aizhen Liu
Cite this article:  Wu, X., Wang, Y., & Liu, A. (2017). Maternal emotional expressiveness affects preschool children’s development of knowledge of display rules. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 45(1), 93-104.


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We explored the development of knowledge of display rules in preschool children aged between 3 and 5 years and its relationship with the emotional expression of mothers, using a sample of 183 Chinese children together with their mothers. Children were tested individually with 6 scenario stories, and mothers completed a measure to assess their expressiveness within the family. Results suggested that the mother’s positive expressiveness was significantly and positively related to the child’s knowledge of display rules, but there was no significant correlation between the mother’s negative expressiveness and the child’s knowledge of display rules. In addition, knowledge of display rules improved significantly between the ages of 3 and 5 years. These findings indicate that the preschoolers had some knowledge of display rules, and that this improved with age. Thus, mothers should regularly express positive emotions to promote their children’s development of knowledge of display rules.

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