Riley 2020

How is African American Adolescents' Racial-Ethnic Identity Associated with Emotional Expression?

Photo credit: Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Few researchers have considered the role of culture, race, and ethnicity in emotion expression. However, emotions have social meaning. One’s cultural values, as well as their understanding of cultural expectations may guide whether they express more positive or negative emotions.

A recent study shows that for African American youth, aspects of their identity predict whether they are more positively or negatively expressive.

  • Emotions hold cultural meaning, and when to express or not express emotions is based on cultural values and understanding. 
  • For African American youth, holding positive views of African Americans predicts greater expression of positive emotion.  
  • Greater belief that other people view African Americans in a positive light predicts less expression of negative emotion for African American youth.