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Motivations for emotional expression and emotion regulation strategies in Chinese school-aged children

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This mixed-methods study investigated cognitive appraisal, emotional experience, motivations for showing and hiding emotions, and strategies for emotional regulation in children attending a Chinese boarding school. Sixty-nine children (Mage = 9.04 years, SD= .98) were presented with vignettes designed to elicit a range of emotions and subsequently interviewed regarding their appraisals, motivations for emotional display, and strategies for emotional regulation. Transcripts were analysed thematically and associations between appraisal and emotion were explored quantitatively. Similar to findings in other cultures, anger was found to be associated with causal/blame appraisal, sadness with loss/helplessness, fear/worry with potential punishment/threat, and happiness/OK with problem-solving/positive appraisal. In contrast to findings from Western cultures, Chinese children reported greater willingness to show emotions in a peer context compared to a family context. “Other-protective” motivations for hiding emotion were reported more by older children than by younger children, and more in a family context than in a peer context. Finally, six areas of emotion regulation strategies were identified by thematic analysis. Older children reported broader repertoires of emotion regulation strategies than did younger children, with the two largest differences being “mental engagement” and “social engagement” strategies.



Appraisal, Motivation for emotional expression, Emotion regulation strategy, Chinese children, Boarding school

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Motivation and Emotion

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/N006577/1)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/N004671/1)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/P001955/1)
China Scholarship Council