Moroccan-Dutch youths display very Dutch emotions

Dutch youths of Moroccan origin express their anger in the same way as native Dutch teenagers. This ‘emotional integration’ applies equally to Moroccan-Dutch youths who identify with Dutch culture and to those whose primary connection is with the culture of their parents.

Conflict situations

This is the conclusion reached by NWO researcher Sheida Novin (1982) in her PhD, which she defends on 16 June at Leiden University. Psychologist Novin asked Dutch, Moroccan-Dutch and Moroccan youths to describe how they react in conflict situations. For instance, what do you say if someone your own age knocks you really hard, or if they spill their drink on your new shoes? Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch youths give similar responses: ‘Watch what you’re doing!’

Wrong image

Novin: ‘There is this idea that young Moroccan-Dutch people are less good at controlling their emotions in conflict situations than their Dutch counterparts. Our study shows that this is not true. Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch young people react in an equally "Dutch" way: directly and often very assertively. This is different from what you see in young Moroccan people. They tend to react in a much more subtle and much more indirect manner.’

No difference

No evidence was found for any difference in anger management between Moroccan-Dutch youths who mostly felt Dutch, and Moroccan-Dutch youths who identified more with their country of origin. Both groups displayed the same Dutch emotional patterns.


Young Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch people also display the same emotions when they do something wrong. Compared with native Moroccan youths, both groups suffer feelings of guilt more frequently. This emotion fits in with the individualistic Dutch culture. Guilt indicates behaviour that does not match one’s own individual moral standards.

Indigenous Moroccans tend to feel more ashamed when they do something wrong. This fits in with the Moroccan culture, in which social moral standards are more prominent.

Post-doc in Michigan

Novin’s research was funded by a Mosaic Grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Mosaic grant is aimed at talented students of foreign origin who wish to carry out PhD research. Since 1 January, Novin has been affiliated as a postdoc with the University of Michigan (US). There she studies the influence of American culture on the development of Arabic-American children.

(10 June 2011 / NWO)


Last Modified: 14-06-2011