Talking about internal states in mother–child reminiscing influences children's self-representations: A cross-cultural study

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Claremont McKenna College, Psychology (CMC)

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This study examined the relation of mother–child discussions of internal states during reminiscing to the development of trait and evaluative self-representations in 131 European American and Chinese immigrant 3-year olds. Mothers and children discussed one positive and one negative event, and children were interviewed for self-descriptions. Euro-American mothers and children made more references to internal states and focused more on causal talk than did Chinese, and Euro-American children were more likely than Chinese children to describe their own traits and evaluative characteristics. Mothers’ and children's use of internal state language during reminiscing of the negative event uniquely predicted children's trait and evaluative self-representations, independent of culture. Explanations of internal states and conversing in the negative event context were particularly effective in predicting children's self-representations. Discussions of internal states further mediated cultural influences on children's self-representations. The findings provide new insight into the contribution of parent–child reminiscing to the development of self.

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© 2010 Elsevier Inc.

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