How does culture impact children’s understanding of emotions?

The way children understand emotions, both their own emotions and those of other people has been extensively studied during the last 35 years. Despite the large corpus of studies, we do not yet understand the impact of culture on children’s understanding of emotion even though culture clearly has an impact on the nature of children’s emotional experience. Indeed, the results of cross-cultural studies of children’s emotion understanding are inconclusive and methodologically limited. The main goals of this session are to discuss the impact of culture on the development of emotion understanding in children and so see how far is the impact of culture mediated or moderated by children’s gender and SES. To explore the role of culture on emotion understanding, we discuss also recent findings on parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about emotion across Latin, Germanic and Slavic cultures. Such discussion should contribute to the contemporary debate about the universal versus culturally specific nature of the development of emotion understanding in children. It should also facilitate the development of policies aimed at the integration of immigrants, and contribute to the development of culturally adapted preventive and intervention programs at the kindergarten and school.