The present study was designed to examine the impact of display rules and gender-emotion stereotypes on French children’s depiction of sadness and anger in their drawings of a human face. Participants were 172 school-aged French children (74 boys and 98 girls), who attended state schools in a middle-class district of a southern French city. The exact age range was as followed: 6 years 2 months to 8 years 1 month. They were asked to draw the emotion felt by a character (either male or female) after being told a scenario eliciting sadness and a scenario eliciting anger. By never mentioning the emotion felt by the character, we expected children’s interpretation of these scenarios to be therefore influenced by their own gender and/or by the character’s gender. Results indicate that anger is depicted by more boys than girls in response to the angry scenario, for male as well as for female characters. Furthermore, among the children who did depict anger, the expressive intensity of the drawings was scored lower for children who were presented the feminine character than for children who were presented the masculine character. However, no effect of gender was found on the drawings produced in response to the sad scenario. These results are discussed in terms of the influence of display rules and gender-emotion stereotypes on children. We also suggest some methodological and clinical implications.
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