Expressive Control During a Disappointment: Variations Related to Preschoolers' Behavior Problems

Pamela M. Cole, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, K. Danielle Smith

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221 Scopus citations


Individual differences in expressive control during a disappointment were examined in relation to preschool boys' and girls' concurrent behavior and to their risk for developing disruptive behavior disorders. A disappointment paradigm was used to examine expressive control in 79 4- and 5-year-old children with low, moderate, or high risk. Boys at risk showed more negative emotion in the experimenter's (E's) presence than low-risk boys. In E's absence, low-risk boys' negative emotion was equivalent to at-risk boys'. Boys' negative emotion, particularly anger, predicted their disruptiveness during the disappointment and general symptoms of oppositionality. At-risk girls differed from low-risk girls after E left, displaying less negative emotion than low-risk girls. Girls' minimization of negative emotion predicted attention deficit and conduct disorder symptoms. Gender-specific expressive control is discussed in terms of gender differences in emotion regulation and psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-846
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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