Nicole Summers ACF Abstract FY12

"The Effects of Culture and Gender on Hispanic-American and European-American Mothers' Conceptions of Child Competence"

24th Annual Convention for Association for Psychological Science

Children acquire cultural models of appropriate emotion expressions through socialization. Beside parents as socialization agents, children books may provide an important resource of culturally appropriate emotions. Tsai, Louie, Chen and Uchida (2007) demonstrated that the desired positive affective state varied between Taiwanese Chinese and European Americans, and this difference was also reflected in children's books. This study aims to expand the study by Tsai et al. (2007) in three ways: Positive and negative emotions are included, facial and posture features are analyzed, and focus is made on the comparison between Caucasian and Hispanic-American children's books. Caucasians favor an individualistic emotion model, i.e., expressing emotion in a more open way, whereas Hispanics may favor a relational emotion model, i.e., expecting more moderate expressions (Friedlmeier, Corapci, & Cole, 2011). Matsumoto (1993) found that Caucasians compared to Hispanics were more willing to express disgust and fear but no differences in positive emotions. Therefore, we expect that Caucasian books portray a greater variety of emotions and that Caucasian books also display negative expressions more openly than Hispanic children books.

A content analysis was performed on illustrations in 10 popular Euro-American and 10 popular Hispanic children's books to determine facial expressions and body posture. The illustrations were coded according to the action units for six emotions (surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness) (Ekman & Friesen, 1975). The posture coding system consisted of 31 criteria and referred to ten emotions (Kudoh & Matsumoto, 1985), e.g., shame and pride. Finally, a global emotion expression code was given for each image to test validity. Two independent coders coded all books and interrater agreement was sufficiently high.

Preliminary analyses showed that fear and sadness were expressed more often by the figures in the Euro-American books, while happiness  contrary to our expectation  was expressed more frequently in the Hispanic books. The images in the Euro-American books displayed surprise and sadness more strongly than those in Hispanic books. Two significant differences of emotion expression by posture occurred: Shame and anger were expressed stronger in the Euro- American books. To conclude, the study demonstrates some differences of emotional displays in children books for these two ethnic groups and the results only partly confirm the ethnic emotion models mentioned above.