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Teasing : a child's perspective Lemon, Kelly-Anne

Abstract

This study was designed to address the factors which influence children's perceptions of ambiguous teasing comments. Specifically, the influences of one's relationship with the teaser (friend versus nonfriend) and one's evaluations of teasing topic (positive versus negative self-evaluation) were hypothesized to affect perceptions. Sixty-nine children ages 8 through 13 were asked to respond to hypothetical teasing scenarios in which an ambiguous teasing comment was made by friends (or nonfriends) about some aspect of appearance on a topic of great (or little) importance to the teasee. Responses to scenarios included perceptions of intent and suggested behavioural responses to teasing. Emotional responses to teasing were also considered. Results demonstrated that teasing from friends was perceived as more benign than from nonfriends. Also, teasing from friends was responded to more negatively than teasing from nonfriends. Valence of self-evaluation did not significantly affect perceptions of intent; however, scenarios including positive self-evaluations tended to be responded to in a more positive way. In addition, participants had mainly negative emotional responses to being teased. Interpretations of these findings and directions for future research are also discussed.

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