Emotion talk during mother–child reminiscing and book sharing and children’s socioemotional competence: evidence from Costa Rica and Germany

Abstract

This paper examined cross-cultural differences in emotion talk during reminiscing and book sharing and its link with children’s social problem-solving skills. Twenty-six Costa Rican mothers, representing the cultural model of autonomy-relatedness, and 26 German mothers, representing the cultural model of autonomy, discussed a negative past event and read a book with their 4-year-old children. Children’s social problem-solving skills were also assessed. Results indicated that cultural contexts did not differ in complexity of emotion talk but Costa Rican dyads talked overall more about emotions than German dyads. Costa Rican dyads marked others as the agents of emotions more often than German dyads, but groups did not differ in the frequency of emotions referring to the child as the agent. Across cultural contexts, mother–child dyads provided significantly more emotional attributions than emotion explanations during book sharing, but not during reminiscing. Emotion talk was related to children’s social problem-solving skills for the Costa Rican group, but not for the German group. The higher the amount of emotion talk in Costa Rican dyads during reminiscing, the lower the child’s social problem-solving skills. Results are discussed in light of the culture-specific nature of emotion socialization and its relation to children’s socioemotional development.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Guidelines to define appropriateness in levels of agreements were taken from Fleiss, Levin, and Paik (2013) and Haden and Hoffman (2013).

  2. 2.

    We want to emphasize, however, that the frequency of explanatory talk did not differ between the two conversational situations. Our interpretation applies to the ratios of emotion attributions and explanatory emotion talk for each conversational situation.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the participating mothers and children. This research was supported by a grant from Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Universidad de Costa Rica (No 723-B7-219) to Ana M. Carmiol and by a grant from the Kompetenzzentrum frühe Bildung in Stendal to Lisa Schröder.

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The study reported here was approved by the appropriate ethics committee at the Universidad de Costa Rica and at the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal. The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

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Ana M. Carmiol and Lisa Schröder—Shared leading authorship.

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Carmiol, A.M., Schröder, L. Emotion talk during mother–child reminiscing and book sharing and children’s socioemotional competence: evidence from Costa Rica and Germany. Cult. Brain 7, 126–147 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40167-019-00078-x

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Keywords

  • Emotions
  • Reminiscing
  • Book sharing
  • Costa Rica
  • Germany
  • Cross-cultural differences