Cultural differences in children's emotional reactions to difficult situations

Pamela Marie Cole, Carole J. Bruschi, Babu L. Tamang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although cultures vary in terms of how their members appraise situations, communicate emotions, and act on them, little is known about how culture influences children's emotional reactions. This study examined beliefs about revealing emotion in 223 second-, fourth-, and fifth-grade children from three cultures (Brahman, Tamang, and the United States). Interviews yielded descriptions of how children would feel, whether they would want others to know their feelings, why they would or would not, and what they would do in difficult interpersonal situations. Findings revealed three distinct cultural patterns. Tamang were more likely to appraise difficult situations in terms of shame than were Brahman and U.S. children, who endorsed anger. Brahman children, however, were more likely to not communicate negative emotion than were Tamang and U.S. children. The responses of U.S. children appeared to be more problem focused and action oriented than those of Brahman and Tamang children. Age influenced the degree to which children used emotion-focused coping, and affected decisions about communicating anger in Tamang and U.S. children. Features of cultural contexts that influence children's sense of appropriate emotional behavior are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-996
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Volume73
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Fingerprint

cultural difference
Emotions
emotion
Anger
anger
Shame
shame
coping
Interviews

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Cole, Pamela Marie ; Bruschi, Carole J. ; Tamang, Babu L. / Cultural differences in children's emotional reactions to difficult situations. In: Child development. 2002 ; Vol. 73, No. 3. pp. 983-996.
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Cultural differences in children's emotional reactions to difficult situations. / Cole, Pamela Marie; Bruschi, Carole J.; Tamang, Babu L.

In: Child development, Vol. 73, No. 3, 01.01.2002, p. 983-996.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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