A major earthquake has a potentially highly traumatic impact on children’s psychological functioning. However, while many studies on children describe negative consequences in terms of mental health and psychiatric disorders, little is known regarding how the developmental processes of emotions can be affected following exposure to disasters. Objectives We explored whether and how the exposure to a natural disaster such as the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake affected the development of children’s emotional competence in terms of understanding, regulating, and expressing emotions, after two years, when compared with a control group not exposed to the earthquake. We also examined the role of class level and gender. Method The sample included two groups of children (n = 127) attending primary school: The experimental group (n = 65) experienced the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake, while the control group (n = 62) did not. The data collection took place two years after the earthquake, when children were seven or ten-year-olds. Beyond assessing the children’s understanding of emotions and regulating abilities with standardized instruments, we employed semi-structured interviews to explore their knowledge of earthquakes and associated emotions, and a structured task on the intensity of some target emotions. Results We applied Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Exposure to the earthquake did not influence the understanding and regulation of emotions. The understanding of emotions varied according to class level and gender. Knowledge of earthquakes, emotional language, and emotions associated with earthquakes were, respectively, more complex, frequent, and intense for children who had experienced the earthquake, and at increasing ages. Conclusions Our data extend the generalizability of theoretical models on children’s psychological functioning following disasters, such as the dose-response model and the organizational-developmental model for child resilience, and provide further knowledge on children’s emotional resources related to natural disasters, as a basis for planning educational prevention programs.

Children’s emotional experience two years after an earthquake: An exploration of knowledge of earthquakes and associated emotions

Raccanello, D.
;
Burro, R.
;
2017

Abstract

A major earthquake has a potentially highly traumatic impact on children’s psychological functioning. However, while many studies on children describe negative consequences in terms of mental health and psychiatric disorders, little is known regarding how the developmental processes of emotions can be affected following exposure to disasters. Objectives We explored whether and how the exposure to a natural disaster such as the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake affected the development of children’s emotional competence in terms of understanding, regulating, and expressing emotions, after two years, when compared with a control group not exposed to the earthquake. We also examined the role of class level and gender. Method The sample included two groups of children (n = 127) attending primary school: The experimental group (n = 65) experienced the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake, while the control group (n = 62) did not. The data collection took place two years after the earthquake, when children were seven or ten-year-olds. Beyond assessing the children’s understanding of emotions and regulating abilities with standardized instruments, we employed semi-structured interviews to explore their knowledge of earthquakes and associated emotions, and a structured task on the intensity of some target emotions. Results We applied Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Exposure to the earthquake did not influence the understanding and regulation of emotions. The understanding of emotions varied according to class level and gender. Knowledge of earthquakes, emotional language, and emotions associated with earthquakes were, respectively, more complex, frequent, and intense for children who had experienced the earthquake, and at increasing ages. Conclusions Our data extend the generalizability of theoretical models on children’s psychological functioning following disasters, such as the dose-response model and the organizational-developmental model for child resilience, and provide further knowledge on children’s emotional resources related to natural disasters, as a basis for planning educational prevention programs.
emotion expression
emotion understanding
emotion regulation
knowledge
earthquake
natural disaster
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/971240
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