Social and emotional development cannot exist within the framework of the healthy functioning of an individual from a young age. In order to define the factors of the child’s healthy development and social interaction in the future, various sociologists and psychologists have offered theories that describe such interactions since a child is born. For example, when speaking of the ways to combine emotional development and sociology, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory may be considered. According to the researcher, the social development and adaptation of every human being starts from the immediate environment at the moment of birth and lasts throughout one’s life. The environmental factors are then divided into various spheres that contribute to one’s perception of the world: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. However, as far as the following question is concerned, the notions of microsystem (for example, family and school) and macrosystem (for instance, culture) are the most important.
Considering the aforementioned theoretical basis, it may be concluded that cultural norms are, in fact, crucial in terms of socioemotional functioning. To begin with, it is necessary to dwell on the notion of cultural influence in the context of social interaction between people, especially when it comes to children. According to the researchers, children from a young age make subconscious assumptions related to their background, as they are, in their turn, influenced by their families and the cultural outlook they have.
The issue is especially vivid in the examples of radically different cultures and ethnic groups, as they frequently obtain opposite behavioral patterns and emotional upbringing. For example, this hypothesis as justified by the study focused on the socioemotional functioning of Chinese and Canadian children in terms of their behavior at school and interaction with peers. One of the most discussed socioemotional factors was the “shyness-openness” psychological paradigm.
According to the results of the study, the level of shyness, which was considerably higher among Chinese children, was perceived differently in various socio-emotional contexts. Thus, when speaking of academic success and social interaction with educators, Chinese children’s predisposition to shyness and discreetness was considered a positive enhancement of socioemotional functioning. On the other hand, as far as interaction with peers was concerned, such a cultural feature diminished the children’s ability to feel accepted in the environment, as shyness was perceived as a manifestation of arrogance. Having taken everything into consideration, it may be concluded that the question of the extent to which cultural norms and values enhance or diminish aspects of socioemotional functioning remains rather vague. Still, it is evident that all the features of one’s culture may have considerably different outcomes in various social contexts.