Lauren Beachum ACF Abstract FY11

"Emotion Socialization Strategies: A Comparison between Caucasian and Hispanic Mothers"

Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association

Lauren Beachum, Charalene Kiser, Megan Drahos, & Wolfgang Friedlmeier


Evidence of cross-cultural differences in emotion socialization suggests that cultural norms influence parenting strategies. This study compares Caucasian and Hispanic-American mothers of 2-year-old children to evaluate variations in emotion socialization strategies as a function of ethnicity. American culture values individualism, and parenting strategies are often problem-focused responses directed towards the cause of the child’s distress (Fabes et al., 2002), which fit the model of individualistic emotion competence. In contrast, the importance of interpersonal relationships in Hispanic cultures (Romero, Cuéllar, & Roberts, 2000) predicts that Hispanic-American mothers would be more likely to discuss emotional expressions with their children in order to facilitate relational emotional competence, i.e., adapting the emotional responses to the context.


N = 60 mothers of 2-year-old children living in West Michigan were interviewed for this study as a part of a broader research project.  The CCNES (Fabes et al., 2002) was adapted into an interview and the vignettes were modified to include a wider range of emotions and adjusted to accommodate younger children. Responses were coded by three independent raters, and statistical analyses include loglinear modeling and MANOVAs.


Preliminary results demonstrate differences in emotion socialization strategies between Caucasian- and Hispanic-American mothers. Caucasian mothers were more likely to use action-based strategies directed toward the child’s behavior, whereas Hispanic-American mothers were more likely to respond to the child’s emotion and use strategies involving discussion.


The preliminary results demonstrate a global difference in emphasis between the two groups in their socialization strategies across emotions, reflecting the emphasis on independence or interdependence within their respective cultures. Caucasian-American mothers tended to react to children’s behaviors using actions while Hispanic-American mothers tended to react to children’s emotions using discussion. These results have significant implications. The ways children learn to regulate their emotions can influence their social competence later on (Fabes et al., 2002). This is particularly important for children from minority groups who experience conflicts between cultural values, and whose behaviors might be misunderstood by teachers and peers. Future research addressing these issues and their effects is required.


Fabes, R. A., Poulin, R. E., Eisenberg, N., & Madden-Derdich, D. A. (2002). The coping with children’s negative emotions scale (CCNES): Psychometric properties and relations with children’s emotional competence. Marriage & Family Review, 34, 285-310.

Romero, A., Cuéllar, I., & Roberts, R. (2000). Ethnocultural variables and attitudes toward cultural socialization of children. Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 79-89.

Short Abstract

This study compares emotion socialization strategies of Caucasian-American and Hispanic-American mothers of 2-year-old children to determine whether they vary as a function of ethnicity. N = 60 mothers living in West Michigan were interviewed. Results indicated cultural differences which corresponded to differing cultural values.

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