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Relations of Parent-Child Interaction to Chinese Young Children's Emotion Understanding

  • Heyi Zhang (a1)

The present study examined the relationship between parent-child interaction and children's emotion understanding ability. The participants were 56 three-year-old children and their mothers from Beijing, China. Mothers and children took part in three dyadic interaction tasks and were video recorded for coding of both mothers’ and children's behaviours. Each child completed three individually administered tests of emotion understanding, including the facial expression recognition task, emotion perspective-taking task, and emotion reason understanding task. Results demonstrated that both mothers’ and children's interaction behaviours were related to children's emotion understanding. Gender differences were found in the relationships between interaction behaviours and children's emotion understanding. Girls’ emotion understanding was associated with children's positive behaviours. In contrast, boys’ emotion understanding was not associated with children's positive behaviours, but related to mothers’ negative behaviours.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
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Address for correspondence: Heyi Zhang, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ UK. Email:
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