How to create a false belief in another person.
The major goal of this study was to determine whether young children appreciate that one effect of using a display rule may be to create a false belief in another person. Fourand 6-year-old children listened to stories in which it would be appropriate for the protagonist to really feel a negative emotion. In half of the stories a reason was given for the protagonist to hide the way he or she really felt (the discrepant condition) from the other story characters; the other half contained a reason for the protagonist to show the other story characters how he or she really felt (the nondiscrepant condition). Subjects were asked to say how the main character would really feel, how the main character would look on his or her face, and how other characters in the story would think the protagonist felt, and to justify their answers. The results indicated that 6-year-old children were more accurate than 4-year-old children in judging that real and apparent emotion would not coincide in the discrepant condition and that other story characters would be misled as a result. Six-year-olds also offered more correct justifications of their responses in both story conditions. The findings are related to recent investigations of children’s understanding of the appearance-reality distinction and the development of children’s knowledge about how to create a false belief in another person.