What Should Chris Say? The Ability of Children With Specific Language Impairment to Recognize the Need to Dissemble Emotions in Social Situations

Brinton, Bonnie; Spackman, Matthew P.; Fujiki, Martin; Ricks, Jenny
June 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2007, Vol. 50 Issue 3, p798
Academic Journal
Purpose: In this study, the authors examined the ability of children with specific language impairment (SLI) and their typical peers to judge when an experienced emotion should be dissembled (hidden) in accord with social display rules. Method: Participants included 19 children with SLI and 19 children with typical language skills, both groups ranging in age from 7;9 (years;months) to 10;10, with a mean age of 9;1. Children were presented with 10 hypothetical social situations in which a character, Chris, experienced an emotion that should be dissembled for social purposes. The participants' responses were categorized as to whether or not they dissembled or displayed the emotion. Results: Although the task was difficult for many participants, children with SLI indicated that the experienced emotion should be dissembled significantly less often than did their typical peers. Children in the 2 groups did not significantly differ in their judgments of the social display rules governing these situations. Conclusion: These results suggested that the children with SLI did not understand the impact of displaying emotion on relationships in the same way as did their typical peers. In this respect, they seemed to lag behind the typical children in their developing emotion knowledge.


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