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You Can't Always Get What You Want: Effortful Control and Children's Responses to Undesirable Gifts

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This study examined individual differences in children's regulation of emotional expression after receiving desirable and undesirable gifts. Effortful control, the ability to suppress a dominant response in favor of a subdominant one, was measured using a battery of behavioral tasks. Reactions to the gifts were videotaped, and emotional expression was coded. Age predicted effortful control, but not emotional displays. Effortful control predicted similarity of children's displays of positive affect after receiving the two gifts. Specifically, children high in effortful control showed similar amounts of positive affect after receiving the desirable and undesirable gifts, whereas children low in effortful control showed less positive affect after receiving the undesirable gift than after receiving the desirable gift. Results are discussed in terms of temperament and the development of socially appropriate expressive behavior.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; 2: Department of Psychology, Illinois State University; and 3: Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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