Japanese and United States Preschool Children's Responses to Conflict and Distress

Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ruth J. Friedman, Pamela M. Cole, Ichiro Mizuta, Noriko Hiruma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Japanese and U.S. preschool children's responses to hypothetical interpersonal dilemmas were examined as a function of culture, gender, and maternal child-rearing values. U.S. children showed more anger, more aggressive behavior and language, and underregulation of emotion than Japanese children, across different contexts of assessment. Children from the 2 cultures appeared more similar on prosocial and avoidant patterns, though in some contexts U.S. children also showed more prosocial themes. Girls from both cultures expressed more prosocial themes and sometimes more anger than boys. Maternal encouragement of children's emotional expressivity was correlated with anger and aggression in children. It was more characteristic of U.S. than Japanese mothers, while emphasis on psychological discipline (reasoning; guilt and anxiety induction) was more characteristic of Japanese than U.S. mothers. The relevance of a conceptual framework that focuses on differences in Eastern and Western cultures in self-construals regarding independence and interdependence is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2462-2477
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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