Cultural differences in emotional responses to success and failure

The emotional responses to achievement contexts of 149 preschool children from three cultural groups were observed. The children were Japanese (N = 32), African American (N = 63) and White American of mixed European ancestry (N = 54). The results showed that Japanese children differed from American children in expressing less shame, pride, and sadness, but more of both exposure and evaluative embarrassment. African American and White American children did not differ from one another. American children however showed more evaluative as opposed to exposure embarrassment.

This finding supports the idea that success and failure are interpreted differently by Japanese children during the preschool years. The low amount of sadness and shame expression, and the limited range of number of different expressions observed in the Japanese children agree with the general finding that East Asian infants and young children differ from Western infants and children primarily in the display of negative expressions. These results demonstrate that cultural differences, whether due to temperament or direct socialization of cultural values, influence how children respond to achievement situations.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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