Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Jennifer L. Rennels

Second Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Third Committee Member

Kimberly Barchard

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages



This study examined the influence person familiarity has on children's social information processing (SIP) choices and emotion recognition. Children in grades 2nd through 5th watch a videotaped expression of a familiar or unfamiliar individual while listening to a hypothetical social interaction. Following the video clip, children responded to open-ended questions and prompted questions designed to assess their strategies and goals in the social interaction. Children also selected from two choices (either `on purpose' or `by accident') for their attribution of the individual's intent. Last, children identified the emotion that they believed the individual in the video was experiencing the most. For children's open-ended response strategies, females were more likely to provide a relational response (i.e., a response that helps to maintain or strengthen the social relationship) compared to males when viewing an unfamiliar person. For the prompted response strategies, males were more likely to provide a relational response for a familiar compared to unfamiliar person. Children were also more likely to attribute purposeful intent to the unfamiliar than familiar person. The 2nd and 3rd grade children were more likely to make relational responses for the open-ended questions compared to the 4th and 5th grade children. Familiarity did not significantly influence children's emotion recognition accuracy. Results add to the existing literature by showing that personal familiarity and children's gender impact multiple aspects of SIP. Results also demonstrate that the way in which researchers assess children's social decisions (i.e., asking spontaneous vs. prompted questions) can influence their strategy responses.


Children; Emotions; Face – Psychological aspects; Faces; Familiarity; Human information processing in children; Information processing; Social interaction; Social interaction in children


Child Psychology | Psychology | Social Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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