The emotion experience of Chinese American and European American children
Liu, Cindy Hsin-Ju, 1979-
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Liu, Cindy Hsin-Ju, 1979-
Emotion experiences such as internalized distress have been described mostly in European Americans and adults in the psychological literature and less in Asian American children. Associations between emotion experience and expressivity have been established mostly through samples of European American children. Finally, the functionality of emotion experience and expressivity across cultural norms has not been examined thoroughly, especially in ethnic minority or bicultural children. This is of concern given that cultural ideals for emotion differ across cultural groups. This dissertation incorporates a cultural perspective to understanding the emotion experience while also relying on the functionalist approach as an organizing framework to understand expressivity in children from an Asian background. This study examined 70 Chinese American and 71 European American mothers and their 5 to 7 year old children. Mother and child reports of children's internalized V experience were obtained. Observers also rated children's expressivity in a frustration- eliciting task, alone and in the presence of their mothers. The first objective of the dissertation was to characterize the emotion experiences of Chinese American and European American young children, in particular, internalized distress. The second objective of this dissertation sought to observe children's expressivity in response to a frustrating situation, with and without their mothers. As a whole, Chinese American children experienced greater internalized distress than European American children based on mother and child reports. Contrary to hypotheses, Chinese American children were just as expressive as European American children during the frustration eliciting task, especially when mothers were present in the room. Furthermore, it appeared that European American children with greater child-reported anxiety and mother-reported depression showed less increase in their expressivity than all the other children when their mothers entered into the room. This study explored the role of culture in the socialization of emotion and the functionality of expressivity in solitary and social situations. Overall, this dissertation suggests that cultural, situational, and internal emotion experience are factors which concurrently play a role in children's emotion expressivity.
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