Student Summer Scholars


emotion norms, children's storybooks, cross-cultural comparison, acculturation, emotion expression


Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Reading and Language




Cultures differ in emotions not only in the emotion display rules (Matsumoto et al., 2008), i.e., how, when, and to whom emotions are appropriate to be expressed, but also in preferences for certain type of emotions (e.g., De Leersnyder, Kim, & Mesquita, 2015; Eid & Diener, 2011). Young children acquire these culture-specific emotion norms not only through their parents’ emotion socialization strategies (Friedlmeier, Corapci, & Cole, 2011), but also through exposure to cultural artifacts such as children’s storybooks (Tsai, 2007; VanderWege et al., 2014).

The goal of this study was to compare emotion displays in European-American, Mexican, and Hispanic-American storybooks to infer cultural differences in emotion norms with a particular emphasis on acculturation effects of Hispanic-American books. Cultural variations of emotion norms are partly explained by general cultural syndromes like individualism-collectivism (van Hemert, Poortinga, & van de Vijver, 2007) and differences in self-construal (Kitayama, Markus, & Kurokawa, 2000), and we expected differences between Mexican and European-American storybooks regarding intensity of expression, type of emotion, and impact of ingroup/outgroup on emotion display.