The role of audience familiarity and activity outcome in children’s understanding of disclaimers

Rachel Nesbit, Dawn Watling

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Disclaimers are used prior to expected poor performance to protect the individual from being evaluated negatively by the audience (Lee et al., 1999). In this study 8-, 11-, and 14-year-olds (N = 147) heard stories of a protagonist telling a familiar or unfamiliar peer that they did not think that they would perform well today, followed by either no disclaimer or a disclaimer and the activity outcome. Children judged how the audience would rate the protagonist’s typical performance and character, and judged their response motivation. Children judged that familiar audiences would be more positive about typical performance and character than unfamiliar audiences; this varied depending on disclaimer use and participant sex. Further, children’s typical performance judgements were more positive when the outcome was negative if a disclaimer was offered, with older children recognising the self-presentational motivation in these conditions. Results are explored in relation to children’s understanding of disclaimers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-246
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date29 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • audience
  • familiarity
  • self-presentation
  • impression management
  • disclaimers

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