Boyatiz and Chazan (1993)
found a gender difference for preschool children's ability to recognize
facial expressions, with females being superior to their male peers.
MacDonald and Kirkpatrick (1996) found that a better ability to recognize
facial expressions is correlated with high popularity, academic achievement
and external locus of control in children.
This experiment examined (1)
a gender difference in the ability to recognize facial expressions, (2)
a gender difference in social competence levels, and (3) a correlation
between the ability to recognize facial expressions and social competence.
Eleven children (4 female,
7 male) between the ages of 3.0 and 4.7 were administered two tests.
First, the children were given Harter and Pike's Pictorial Scale of Perceived
Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children (1983).
Several days later the children were given a modified version of Ekman
and Friesen's Pictures of Facial Affect (1976).
The findings of this study
demonstrated no significant gender difference for facial expression recognition
or social competence. A positive correlation was found between the
ability to recognize facial expressions and social competence. Thus,
the better a child was at interpreting a facial expression the higher the
child's social competence will be.
The findings of
this study could be applied to research with handicapped children.
For example, a deaf child may have a high ability to recognize facial expressions
because they can not hear the words that accompany the expression and therefore,
can only rely on facial expressions.
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