Impact of Instructional Modality and Emotional Valence on the Reflective Emotion Regulation of Expression in Preschool Children
The current study investigates the impact of instructional modality and emotional valence on the reflective emotion regulation of expression in preschool children. Twenty-three boys and girls aged 3 to 5 years took part in a social dice game of expression where they were motivated to mask their felt emotion (joy when receiving a gift resp. disappointment when receiving no gift) with an opposed expression, presented either iconically (as a picture) or verbally (as a spoken instruction). Twelve adult naïve observers judged children’s videotaped behavior according to the quality of emotion children seemed to experience. This impression analysis revealed that children masked their actually felt emotion more effectively when instructed iconically. In addition, 5-year-old children masked joy more effectively than disappointment, while no such differences were found for 3- to 4-year-old children.