Emotion Socialization within Children’s Friendships

My name is Zoe Trout, and I’m a rising junior at the College of William and Mary. This summer I will be working with Dr. Janice Zeman’s Psychology Lab on a study entitled “Emotion Socialization within Children’s Friendships.”  Emotion socialization is the process by which a person’s emotional development is influenced by social interactions that reinforce and discourage various behaviors.  The goal of our research project is to investigate peer socialization of children’s sad emotions, specifically. By studying the emotion socialization of 4th and 5th grade children, Dr. Janice Zeman and I hope to gain insight into the ways that social relationships affect emotional regulation at this formative age.  More specifically, we will examine whether factors such as gender and type of peer relationship (best friend vs. non-friend peer) have an effect on the socialization of sadness regulation, while exploring potential psychological outcomes of these processes.

My independent involvement in this study will focus on the intersection of loneliness and sadness regulation, specifically as it relates to friendship type.  I am especially interested in whether feelings of loneliness are predicted by sadness dysregultaion, and whether friendship type affects this relationship.  Past research has shown a high correlation between children’s peer group dissatisfaction and loneliness. Given that emotional regulation is highly important to children’s social functioning, I am interested in the link between such emotional regulation and loneliness.  More specifically, I will be exploring the hypothesis that emotional dysregulation predicts more loneliness, possibly by inhibiting children’s social functioning and thereby affecting their peer acceptance.  Another important component of my investigation will be examining the correlation between sadness dysregulation on loneliness, as it intersects with the type of peer relationship.  For example, I will address questions such as whether sadness dysregulation is more likely to predict loneliness amongst acquaintances or close friends.  Ultimately, with this research, I hope to further the understanding of loneliness as it relates to sadness regulation in middle childhood.