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Audience effects on self-presentation in childhood.
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 17:56 authored by Robin BanerjeeRobin Banerjee
Controlling one public image in front of different audiences is an important element of social behaviour, but little is known about the way in which primary school children develop this skill. In three experiments, children judgements about appropriate self-descriptions in front of different audiences were examined. In Experiment 1, 74 children aged between 6 and I I were given pairs of self-descriptive statements in the domains of academic skills, physical/athletic skills, and interpersonal skills. They were asked to decide which one of each pair would be better for a story character to say when getting acquainted with either an unfamiliar peer or an unfamiliar adult, assuming all self-descriptive options were true. Results showed clear differentiation between the two audiences only in the oldest children. In Experiment 2, 72 children from the same age range completed a similar task, but specific information was given in advance about the audiences' preferences (e.g., for clever people vs. sporty people). It was found that children from across the age range were able to regulate their choices of self-descriptions in accordance with the audience preferences. However, the extent of audience differentiation increased significantly with age. In Experiment 3, 68 children from the same age range completed the task from the previous experiment, but additionally provided sociometric nominations of classmates with whom they played. As hypothesised, correlational analysis showed that the variability in audience differentiation was associated significantly with the variability in the proportion of nominations that were reciprocated. Results are discussed in the light of theoretical connections between children social experience and their developing appreciation of self-presentational concerns.
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