Differences between American and Chinese preschoolers in emotional responses to resistance to temptation and mishap contexts Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Americans typically are more emotionally expressive than Chinese, even in early childhood (Camras et al. in Infancy 11:131–155, 2007; Markus and Kitayama in The self in social psychology. Psychology Press, New York, pp 339–371, 1999; Rothbaum and Rusk in Socioemotional development in cultural context. Guilford Press, New York, pp 99–127, 2011), probably because emotional expression, especially intense or negative expression, disrupts social harmony and is discouraged in Chinese children, but indicates individuality and is more accepted in American children. However, extant research has primarily focused on emotions elicited by relatively primitive stimuli. As highly socialized contexts have particular potential to reveal sociocultural impact on children’s emotional expressiveness, 35 Chinese and 39 American 3-year olds were compared in the current study on a range of emotional indices in two highly socialized, emotionally challenging situations—resistance to temptation and a “mishap” paradigm, in which children were led to believe they broke someone’s toy. American children were more emotionally expressive of happiness and sadness than Chinese children. However, Chinese children’s anger showed a cumulative pattern across contexts, in contrast to Americans’. Findings suggest that differences in emotional expressiveness between American and Chinese children are dimension-specific, emotion-specific, and context-specific. Implications for children’s individualized emotional well-being are discussed.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, J., & Barrett, K. C.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM