Aspects of 72 preschoolers' display rule knowledge – the ability to distinguish apparent from real emotions and understand the motives underlying display rule use – were examined. Children listened to stories describing situations designed to elicit an emotion in the
protagonist and a prosocial or self-protective reason for concealing her/his real emotion from other story characters. Children were asked to predict what facial expressions the protagonists would display in response to the emotionally laden situations and to justify their predictions.
Findings revealed that children's ability to distinguish between apparent and real emotions increased in the 4–6 years age span. Moreover, children justified prosocial and self-protective display rules with similar accuracy. The findings are discussed in terms of children's
ability to make the appearance-reality distinction across domains (emotional, physical) and in the context of the socialization of emotional displays.