Several studies have suggested that children?s cognitive abilities (e.g., language skills and IQ) and their affective experience (e.g., the experience of abuse and/or the disruption of attachment) have an impact on their understanding of emotion. However, the relative contribution of these cognitive and affective characteristics and the possibility of an interaction between them have rarely been examined. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of learning difficulties as well as earlier abuse on adolescents? understanding of several simple and complex components of emotion understanding. Adolescents were divided into four groups with and without learning difficulties and with and without a prior history of abuse, matched for gender and chronological age. Results showed that (1) learning difficulties but not abuse had an impact on adolescents? emotion understanding; (2) there was no interaction between the cognitive and experiential variables; and (3) the observed effects of learning difficulties emerged for adolescents? understanding of relatively complex components of emotion but not for their understanding of simple components. The results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications. Some of the results of this empirical research have been presented at the 22nd Nordiske Psykolog Kongres (NPK), Copenhagen, Denmark (Pons, Doudin & Harris, 2004). This empirical research is still running. With Pierre-André Doudin (Universities of Geneva and Lausanne), Paul Harris (Harvard University) and Marc de Rosnay (University of Cambridge).