Usage of display rules in children Whether people like it or not, emotions can get the best of them during rough, happy or sad times. How one expresses themselves emotionally during these times is most apparent through speech or facial expressions. Which starting from a young age, can be controlled through the use of display rules. Display rules are cultural rules concerning when and how people regulate their emotional expressions in certain situations. Numerous reasons can justify the use of display rules; whether the nature of the circumstances is prosocial or self-protective.
Regardless, children’s understanding of these rules often differ with years. Taking into consideration of their age, gender and culture – some fail to recognize when it would be appropriate to utilize these display rules, such as in social situations. Investigating the expression of emotions in children during these cases allow the better understanding of individual children’s interpretation of when or how to use display rules and can lead to research increasing successful interaction with others (Chung, 2012)
Culture plays a significant factor in molding children’s ability to discriminating when it is socially appropriate to respond to a situation using display rules. It has been suggested that children understand prosocial display rules better than self-protective ones (Gnepp and Hess, 1986). This can be due to the teachings by society, ingraining into their mind when it is appropriate to behave in a particular way as a gesture of good manners. Parents and teachers are often directing children to do so – encouraging the use of display rules.
Additionally, various cultures endorse the regulation of emotional expressions in religious traditions or racial backgrounds. There are differences evident in the endorsement also, such as in America the expression of emotions are more vivid and intense than the Japanese, demonstrated in Freisen’s 1972 experiment (Chung, 2012). Children become more socially aware and adept to regulating their emotional expression appropriately in culturally social settings.
Older children are more aware of the social norms of using display rules in social situations than younger children, hence more likely to utilize it than younger children. Younger children lack the experience and cognitive development that being older would earn them. They tend to respond with their true emotion towards a situation, negligent of others feelings. Supported from Gnepp and Hess (1986), children under 6-7 years of age have yet to understand prosocial display rules, with a significant difference in using them compared to older children at ages 10 and up.
Although, they report display rules at all ages to protect themselves from negative outcomes for themselves – either to instinctively preserve their dignity or protect themselves from harm. But with an increase in age, there is a rise of children using display rules as they are more mindful of other’s feelings and the consequences of not regulating their emotion. It is suggested that at ages 6 to 8 they start to steadily tell apart apparent from real emotion and utilise them appropriately (Naito and Seki, 2009).
Older children are more self-conscious of their surroundings as they age due to society, experience and teachings which leads to the notion that distinguishing when to use display rules improves with age. What gender a child is does little to their use of display rules. Although various factors come into play when concerning the gender-emotion stereotypical responses. These include expressions often reinforced by adults or other children such as boys don’t cry’ or ‘diamonds are girl’s best friend’. Findings indicate that girls and boys may control emotional displays somewhat differently for specific emotions, showing constraints in their expression (Doubleday, Catherine; And Others, 1990). For instance, in Shennum and Bugental (1982) young boys become neutral in their expressive behavior where there is poor situation. As for girls, to substitute negative behavior with positive behavior such as politeness (Saarni, 1982).
However, the occurrence of using display rules should be equal for both genders because these cultural rules are enforced early in children’s childhood. It is only the gender differences in the implementation of display rules that differ – gender plays a minor role in children towards the actual frequency of their use of display rules. The study at present builds upon these three fields of research; age, culture and gender of children by observing the use of display rules, both verbal and facial, and investigating the influences these traits create.
It is hypothesized children are able to distinguish when it is culturally appropriate to use it and exhibit better use of verbal display rules than facial due to better voluntary control. Expectations also include that with age, children are better suited at regulating their emotions and more likely to utilize it due to more experience in cultural and social conventions. There will be no obvious difference in usage of display rules in boys and girls.