Culture: The functionality of emotion regulation skills in different cultures
Sheida Novin, PhD
It is evident that cultural background influences ‘emotion scripts’; cultural frameworks that provide guidance on what to feel, and when and how to express emotions from a young age. This research programme examines the functionality of different emotion regulation skills within different cultures. Data are collected across countries (e.g. Netherlands, UK, Spain, Italy, Iran, Korea, China), but also among different cultural groups within one country.
Special emphasis is given to ethnic minority groups who may be described as living ‘in-between’ cultures. Young members of such groups, such as the Moroccan-Dutch group in the Netherlands, must address substantial tensions because they have to keep track of multiple emotion scripts and apply them appropriately. In the Dutch media today, Moroccan-Dutch adolescents are often subject of problems. It is unclear how they function emotionally and whether their emotional functioning is related to these problems: Have they learned to manage cultural variations or are they caught in a ‘cultural split’?
Theoretically, little is known about the emotional development of adolescents growing up in such populations. Previous research investigated emotional functioning across different countries, or treated minority groups as a separate group uninfluenced by the dominant country. This project, however, aims to investigate cultural influences from both the original and dominant culture on emotional knowledge and functioning of Moroccan-Dutch adolescents (12-16 years) in relation to their ethnic identity and to their psychological, social, and school competence. Moreover, the responses of the Moroccan-Dutch adolescents will be compared to those of native Dutch adolescents. In order examine the research questions, various questionnaires, such as vignettes, will be designed on the one hand and existing questionnaires, for example measuring depression and aggression, will be used on the other hand. The vignettes that were used to research anger communication in bicultural adolescents (Novin & Rieffe, in press) can be found here.