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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Randall Koper

First Committee Member

Carol Ann Hackley

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


This study investigated the effect of children's prosocial behavior and gender on their abilities to decode and encode facial expressions. Four hypotheses were addressed in this study. The first hypothesis predicted a positive correlation between decoding abilities and pro social behavior of preschool-level children. The second hypothesis made a similar prediction, but between encoding abilities and prosocial behavior. Hypothesis three predicted that female preschoolers would be more accurate in decoding facial affect than would male preschoolers. Finally, hypothesis four predicted that females would have greater success with encoding emotions than would their male counterparts. A total of 132 children from a local private preschool participated in this study. Results showed a non-significant correlation between the decoding abilities of preschoolers and their prosocial behavior. Further analysis of the data revealed a significant negative correlation between the encoding abilities and pro social behavior of preschool children. Support was found for hypothesis three, revealing that females were better decoders of facial affect than were males. Finally, statistical tests indicated that there were no significant differences between females and males and the ability to successfully encode facial expressions. The implications and limitations of the study are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.



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