Child Maltreatment: identifying 
Socio-Emotional Consequences 

Project 2 of Theme 4: Socio-emotional development across cultures


Project group

​PI: Monique Pfaltz (University of Zurich, Switzerland).​

  • Tanja Michael, Saarland University (Germany)

  • Misari Oe, Kurume University Hospital (Japan)

  • Miranda Olff, Amsterdam UMC (Netherlands)

  • Monique Pfaltz, University of Zurich (Switzerland)

  • Ulrich Schnyder, University of Zurich (Switzerland)

  • Wataru Sato, Kyoto University (Japan)

  • Sandra Scivoletto, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

  • Soraya Seedat, Stellenbosch University (South Africa)

  • Jumpei Yamkma, Beppu University (Japan)

  • Rachel Wasmer-Nanney, University of Missouri-St.Louis (United States)


The aim is to identify socio-emotional consequences of child maltreatment including crosscultural 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 relationship in affected individuals.


Activity 1: CM SEC Workshop


CM SEC is intended to result in concrete research plans for research projects and other scientific activities (meta-analysis/review, preparation of funding applications for the planned research projects) within the theme “Socio-emotional Development Across Cultures”. Action plans with the next steps will be worked out for each project as part of the workshop.

Results of the workshop will be presented at the 36th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), in November 2020. Projects and further results arising from the workshop will furthermore be published on this Global Collaboration website.


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

International Workshop 
University of Zurich
May 11-12, 2020
was held to Sept 7-8, 2020
Contact person: Monique Pfaltz:

The workshop

The workshop provided a platform for junior and senior researchers to jointly draw up a research agenda that covered the following aims:

  1. based on clinical (psychotherapeutic) needs of affected individuals, discuss and decide on the most pressing research questions that theme 4 of the Global Collaboration will address

  2. exchange knowledge on research methodology, particularly experimental paradigms, to plan scientifically sound projects

  3. decide on specific projects that will be conducted in the coming 3 to 5 years (e.g., a joint meta-analysis, specific research projects) and plan corresponding next steps to carry out these projects

  4. include study populations in cultures that have not yet received much scientific attention and take into account the cultural impact on socio-emotional processes.



Twenty-one junior and senior researchers from 6 different time zones, from various cultures, with different methodological backgrounds have participated online and in person to foster a cross-cultural understanding of the topic. Next to researchers from the broader trauma field, the workshop included researchers with a strong experimental and basic research background in the processing of socio-emotional signals, which will enable the utilization of culturally adapted paradigms (e.g., facial expression stimuli matching the cultural context of participants) and thus of methodologically sound research projects. But also researchers working with interventional designs as well as clinicians to ensure transferability to clinical practice and psychotherapy particpated.

Course of the workshop

A short online survey was conducted in advance of the workshop to create an initial topic list. During the workshop, working in small groups, on specific topics based on the online survey. Towards the end of the second day of the workshop,  plans for research projects were presented to experts in the field followed by discussion and feedback in preparation of the next steps, including finding funding.


As part of small groups and during plenary sessions, we have developed research questions that theme 4 of the Global Collaboration should address, ideas for joint activities (details to be outlined soon) and projects which will be conducted by subgroups of the workshop participants.

The first projects include a study on transcultural aspects of child maltreatment, e.g. regarding the conceptualization of child maltreatment.

A second project will assess preferred interpersonal distance (as one aspect of non-verbal interpersonal signals that might affect social functioning of affected individuals) in children and adults with and without a history of child maltreatment by means of behavioral and psychophysiological data.

© 2019 by Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress