Child Maltreatment: identifying 
Socio-Emotional Consequences 

Project 2: Socio-emotional development across cultures

Project leader: Monique Pfaltz (Mid Sweden University, Sweden; University of Zurich, Switzerland)


Project group: Adrián Arévalo, National University of San Marcos (Peru) - Fredrik Åhs, Mid Sweden University (Sweden) - Rahel Bachem, Universtiy of Zurich (Switzerland) - Eleonora Bartoli, Goethe University of Frankfurt (Germany) – Habte Belete, Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia) – Tilahun Belete Mossie, Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia) - Azi Berzengi, University of East Anglia (UK) – Jaqueline Bukaka, University of Kinshasa (République Démocratique du Congo) – Polly Cheng, McGill University (Canada) – Deniz Ceylan Tufan Özalp, Koc University (Turkey) – Daniel Dukes, University of Fribourg (Switzerland) - Aziz Essadek, University of Lorraine (France) - Natalia Elena Fares Otero, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (Spain) – Rashmi Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology (India) – Shilat Haim-Nachum, Bar-Ilan University (Israel) - Sarah Halligan, University of Bath (UK) – Naved Iqbal, Jamia Millia Islamia (India) – Einat Levy-Gigi, Bar-Ilan University (Israel) – Jana Javakhishvili, Ilia Statet Uiversity (Georgia) – Stefen Jensen, University of Rwanda (Rwanda) – Laura Jobson, Monash University (Australia) – Saman Kamari, Shiraz University (Iran) – Rachel Langevin, McGill University (Canada) – Antonia Lüönd, University of Zurich (Switzerland) – Nino Makhashvili, Ilia State University (Georgia) – Chantal Martin Soelch, University of Fribourg (Switzerland) - Tanja Michael, Saarland University (Germany) – Vida Mirabolfathi, Kharazmi University and Institute for Cognitive Science Studies (Iran) – Annalaura Nocentini, University of Florence (Italy) – Misari Oe, Kurume University (Japan) – Helena Örnkloo, Mid Sweden University (Sweden) - Miranda Olff, Amsterdam UMC (Netherlands) - Monique Pfaltz, Mid Sweden University (Sweden) and University of Zurich (Switzerland) – Krithika Prakash, Eastern Michigan University (United States) – Vijaya Raghavan, Schizophrenia Research Foundation (India)- Elie Rahmé, Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik (Lebanon) – Muniarajan Ramakrishnan, Mid Sweden University (Sweden) – Vedat Sar, Koc University (Turkey) - Wataru Sato, Kyoto University (Japan) – Shruti Rao, Schizophrenia Research Foundation (India) – Ulrich Schnyder, University of Zurich (Switzerland) – Roxanne Sopp, Saarland University (Germany) – Rosario Spencer, Universidad de Talca (Chile) – Georgina Spies, Stellenbosch University (South Africa) - Soraya Seedat, Stellenbosch University (South Africa) – Tanya Tandon, Indian Institute of Technology (India) – Dany Laure Wadji, University of Fribourg (Switzerland) - Rachel Wamser-Nanney, University of Missouri-St.Louis (United States) – Nadine Zalaket, Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik (Lebanon).

The aim of our projects is to identify socio-emotional consequences of child maltreatment including cross-cultural aspects and to initiate collaborative research, by bringing together researchers from around the world. More in particular, we aim at identifying alterations in specific communicative and social skills (e.g., setting boundaries, recognizing other’s emotional state from non-verbal signals, expressing one’s own emotions during social interactions), which might underlie interpersonal difficulties and relationship problems that many individuals with a history of child maltreatment are facing. This research shall serve as a basis for the development of clinical interventions that aim at improving social relationships in affected individuals.

Project 2.1 Impact of Child Maltreatment on Preferred Interpersonal Distance

PI: Monique Pfaltz


Previous studies point to a relationship between general trauma history and a larger preferred interpersonal distance (as one aspect of non-verbal interpersonal signals that might affect the long-term social functioning of affected individuals). Regarding child maltreatment, initial evidence suggests that those with a history of maltreatment prefer larger interpersonal distances towards strangers.


Aims:  This aim of this project is to assess whether this finding can be replicated in different cultures and whether adults with various levels of child maltreatment also prefer larger distances towards close others. Assessment of preferred interpersonal distance and collection of questionnaire data (i.a., on trauma history) are conducted online, in various languages.


Current status: We are currently collecting data and the questionnaire is available in more than 10 languages. By supporting this project you will ultimately help to develop culture-sensitive interventions for those affected by childhood maltreatment.

Results:  Results are expected to be available mid 2022.


Please use the following link to participate on your PC or laptop (participation by smartphone or tablet is not possible):

Picture theme Emotion Regulation- Moniqu
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Project 2.2 Child Maltreatment through a Cross-Cultural Lens 

PIs: Misari Oe, Naved Iqbal

While the WHO definition of child maltreatment covers a wide range of behaviors, thresholds for what is considered child maltreatment vary in different cultures. For example, in some countries, corporal punishment is considered a valid parenting practice while it is not in many others. Consequently, children in the former countries might be more exposed to physical violence and experience more negative repercussions on their development and mental health. Yet, studies are showing conflicting results in that regard.

Aims: The aim of this project is threefold. First, it aims to better understand the cross-cultural variations in what constitutes child maltreatment and in the impact of parenting behaviors on children’s development and mental health. Second, it aims to identify the most appropriate means to assess child maltreatment and its effects on mental health in different cultures. Third, it aspires to identify culture-specific protective factors, increasing resilience in at-risk populations.

Current status: The research group has implemented a pilot project in Cameroon, Canada, Germany, and Japan. This project was awarded by the Internal SSHD Grant of McGill University. An online survey with questionnaires on social norms of child maltreatment, childhood maltreatment history, mental health outcomes, and resiliency measures has been conducted in Canada and Japan. Data collection is in progress in Germany and the study in Cameroon is awaiting approval from the ethics committee.

The pilot project will be implemented in several additional countries, including India. A part of the results will be presented at the ISPCAN Congress (Quebec City, Canada) in March 2022. We are planning to develop a new project by creating research questions based on the results of the pilot project. Grant applications will be drafted in parallel.

Results:  Results of the pilot study among four countries are expected to be available by March 2022.


We will collaborate with other researchers from the Global Collaboration ( to ensure that data arising from our projects are FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable).

How to get involved

Our project and subproject groups are meeting online, on a regular basis. It is still possible to get involved in our ongoing projects and to also suggest and develop future projects.

For more information, please contact Monique Pfaltz: