British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 17 Issue 1 (March 1999), Pages 1-166

Children's understanding of self‐presentational display rules: Associations with mental‐state understanding (pages 111-124)

The present research addressed children's understanding of self‐presentational display rules: putting on false facial expressions in order to manipulate others’ evaluations of the self. A sample of 4‐ to 6‐year‐olds was used to test our hypothesis that self‐presentational display rules involve recursive cognition about others’ mental states. Children completed a task measuring understanding of various display rules and additionally performed a second‐order false‐belief task. Results supported the hypothesis that an appreciation of second‐order mental representation is associated with understanding self‐presentational display rules but not with understanding prosocial display rules (designed to spare others’ feelings). We discuss the likely interaction of social processes with the observed changes in mental‐state understanding in relation to the development of self‐presentation.

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