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Chapter 4

Chapter Four cross cult

10 Pages

Course Code
PSYC 3350
Saba Safdar

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Chapter Four: Culture and Developmental Processes • Human Development: how people change over time on many different levels • Biological, physical, cognitive, emotional and social • More than just change; refers to changes that show greater complexity, organization and competencies • Important issue = whether developmental pathways are universal or culture specific • Contemporary theorists of human development recognize there are universal developmental pathways (e.g., all children undergo puberty) as well as culture specific developmental pathways (e.g., the experience, meaning and implications for undergoing puberty vary across cultures) • Contemporary theorists of human development argue that development is not primarily driven by nature or nurture, but of nature’s close interaction with nurture - two cannot be separated • Development is the result of the interaction between the characteristics that children are born with and children’s relations to their unique environment • Developmental contextualism: multiple levels of a developing child are inextricably intertwined and function as an integrated system • Stresses that it is the relation between these changing multiple levels that constitutes human development CULTURE AND TEMPERAMENT • The characteristics we are born with determine, to some extent, how our caregivers react and interact with us, initiating the lifelong process of socialization What is Temperament? • Temperament: qualities of responsiveness to the environment that exist from birth and evoke different reactions from people in the baby’s world. Temperament is generally considered to be a biologically based style of interacting with the world • Not fixed at birth • Not impervious to experience • Reflects an interaction between a child’s predispositions and experiences in life • While relatively stable, it can be modified over time • Three major categories: • Easy Temperament: a very regular, adaptable, mildly intense style of behaviour that is positive and responsive • Difficult Temperament: intense, irregular, withdrawing style, generally marked by negative moods • Slow-to-warm-up: need time to make transitions in activity and experiences. May withdraw initially or respond negatively, given time and support they will adapt and react positively • A child’s temperamental style is believed to provide a foundation for later personality The Goodness to Fit Between Temperament and Culture • Goodness to Fit: how well the child’s temperament matches the expectations and values of the parent, environment and culture • Mismatch = more negative child outcomes are expected • Good match = more positive • Study: DeVries found that difficult infants (in Masai) who were very active and fussy, demanded and consequently received more feeding/caring from their mothers • A particular type of temperament may be adaptive in one culture and maladaptive in another • The way we interpret an infant’s dispositions and behaviours must be considered in relation to the specific culture; the same dispositions and behaviours may have different meanings when placed in a different cultural context Cross-Cultural Studies on Temperament • Children of other cultures have different temperaments at birth, they will respond to the environment differently • They will evoke different responses from caregivers in their environment • 2 fundamental differences (temperament/environment) should produce a fundamental difference in the learning and social experiences • Most studies = Westernized vs. Asian culture • Asian infants seem to have a predisposition to be less irritable compared to Westernized infants (calmer and more placid) • Chinese/Japanese/Hmong = significantly less active, less irritable and less vocal • Important = variation among Asian countries • Chinese newborns are more irritable compared to Japanese • Overall, studies of new borns show that very early on in life, temperamental differences are evident across cultures Temperament and Learning Centre • The quiet temperament and placidity that are notable in infants from Asian backgrounds is probably further stabilized in later infancy and childhood by the response of caregivers • Chinese parents value the harmony that is maintained through emotional restraint and emphasize and reinforce quiet behaviour • Temperament may serve as a baseline biological predisposition of the infant that allows this type of learning to occur • Cultural differences that we find concerning temperament, evident early in life, give us a clue to what kinds of personalities and behaviours are valued within the culture • A child’s temperament and the environmental response to his or her temperamental style will most likely result in differences in the learning and social experiences of those children and consequently in their behaviours, personalities and worldviews Dimensions of Temperament: A Focus on Behavioural Inhibition • Six temperament dimensions have been identified: • (1) Activity level (gross motor activity) • (2) Smiling and laughter (sociable) • (3) Fear (distress in new situations) • (4) Distress to limitations (levels of distress when an infant’s goal is blocked) • (5) Soothability (how easy it is to soothe an infant when distressed) • (6)Duration of orienting (how long an infant pays attention to an object when no other stimulations are introduced) • One that receives the most attention cross-culturally = behavioural inhibition • Behavioural Inhibition: shows signs of wariness, discomfort or distress when confronted with novel, challenging and unfamiliar situations • Displays in social situations is considered “shy” • Received much attention because clearly linked to children’s adjustment and social competence • Some cultures not desirable trait (North America) • Socially immature and less liked by peers • Linked to greater anxiety, loneliness and a more negative/stressful family environment in childhood • Other cultures = highly desirable • China: mature, well-behaved and understanding, high self-esteem and do well in school, more socially accepted • Thus, the same temperament disposition will be discouraged and provoke negative responses from parents and peers in one culture, while in another, it will be encouraged and positively reinforced • If temperament matches what is is valued then more positive development • Does not match what is valued, negative developmental outcomes • Culture provides the meanings and consequences related to temperament • Cultures may change in terms of which temperamental traits are desirable • Study: cultural ideals concerning shyness are changing (Chinese) • Urban areas = more depression and more social/school problems • China has undergone many significant changes (social/economic) in the last two decades • Competition, individual freedom, and self-expression are increasingly emphasized Sources Behind Temperamental Differences • Developmental contextualism perspective: differences in temperament reflect differences in genetics and in reproductive histories, as well as environmental and cultural pressures over generations that may be helped to produce minor biological changes in infants through a functionally adaptive process • Study how altitude may relate: Low altitude infants, those raised in the Andes were less attentive, less responsive and less active and had a more difficult time quieting themselves • The harsh environment may have contributed to these environments • The cultural experiences of the mother during pregnancy may contribute to a prenatal environment that modifies an infant’s biological composition • Fetal environment is one context in which significant stimulation occurs • Connection between maternal blood pressure and infant irritability • Mothers who reported high anxiety during pregnancy were more likely to have newborns who spent less time in quiet and active alert and showed poorer motor performance • Overall, prenatal environment has been linked to aspects of infant temperament • Nature and consequences of prenatal stimulation and possible variations across cultures is largely unknown - still very few studies • Temperamental differences that are evident from birth contribute to the personality differences we observe in adults of different cultures • Cross-cultural research suggests that there are group differences across cultures in infants’ and children’s temperaments • Differences result of the complex interplay between multiple factors that are valued in each culture, specific environmental demands and physiological aspects of the mother • Some aspects of temperament appear to be universal • Behavioural inhibition find infants from around the world who exhibit a higher level of fear or discomfort when confronted with the novel stimulation • The developmental consequences associated with this aspect of temperament vary by the specific culture CULTURE AND ATTACHMENT • Attachment: the special bond that develops between the infant and his or her primary caregiver and provides the infant with emotional security • Many psychologists believe that the quality of attachment has lifelong effects on our relationships with loved ones • Once attached, babies are distressed by separation • Evidence in every culture Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment • Evolutionary theory: must be preprogrammed, biological basis for becoming attached (smiling, cooing) • Argues that the attachment relationship between caregiver and child functioned as a survival strategy: Infants had a greater chance of survival if they remained close to the caregiver for comfort and protection • Study: Attachment protected from dangers of their environment; they explored their environment, but only when they were in close proximity to an attachment figure Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Classification System of Attachment • Ainsworth described 3 attachment styles: • Secure: become distressed when their mother leaves but are easily comforted by her when she returns • Ambivalent (insecurely attached): experience distress when their mother leaves but when she returns they send mixed signals: - want to be comforted but appear to have a difficult time letting her soothe them • Avoidant (insecurely attached): do not seem to be distressed when their mother leaves and when she returns they will actively avoid reuniting • Studies from other cultures have found a similar distribution of attachment classifications; others have found considerable differences • Some styles are not reported in certain cultures • Findings highlight the importance of understanding the attachment system in the context of parenting practices specific to each culture Cross-Cultural Studies on Attachment • The Strange Situation, developed by Ainsworth, is the most widely used measure • Infants are separated from their mothers for a brief period of time • Separation is thought to trigger the attachment system in the infant • Quality of attachment is derived partly from an assessment of the infant’s reaction to the separation and subsequent reunion with the mother • Has been used extensively across cultures, the cross-cultural validity of this method and the meaning of the attachment classifications themselves have been questioned • Ex. Meaning of attachment may differ across cultures • Cross-cultural researchers have questioned the appropriateness of the different categories of attachment • Van IJzendoorn and Sagi outlined several important cross-cultural issues with Ainsworth’s study: whether maternal sensitivity is a necessary antecedent of attachment • Mothers of securely attached infants are described as sensitive, warm and more positive in their emotional expression • Mothers of avoidant children are suspected of being intrusive and overstimulating • Mothers of ambivalent children have been characterized as being insensitive and uninvolved • According to Ainsworth, a major determinant of attachment security is having a caregiver who is sensitive and responsive to the child’s needs • Studies of other cultures found a weaker connection between parent sensitivity and security of attachment • One possible reason for why maternal sensitivity has not been consistently linked to secure attachment is that sensitivity may mean different things and expressed in different ways across cultures • Researchers need to pay more attention to how different cultures conceptualize and demonstrate sensitive parenting to better understand what type of parenting leads to secure attachment • US vs. Japan Is Secure Attachment a Universal Ideal? • Cultures may differ in their notion of “ideal” attachment • Attachment scholars have suggested that researchers should stop using value-laden terms such as “secure” and “insecure”; propose it would be more useful to use “adaptive” and “maladaptive” which would take into consideration how cultures differ in the particular attachment strategy that may be most appropriate for that culture • Attachment relationships in childhood may have long-term consequences • The most important longitudinal studies of attachment suggests that early attachment relationships are related to the quality of later peer relationships, the ability to develop close, intimate adult relationships and how one parents • There is a complex relation between early attachment relationships and later development that depends on the temperament and personality of the child, the stability and characteristics of the caregiving environment, individual life events and quality of interpersonal relationships throughout the child’s life • Attachment between infants and their caregivers is a universal phenomenon • Differs across cultures: specific attachment behaviours exhibited by the infant that indicate secure or insecure attachment and the parenting practices that promote secure and insecure attachment • “Adaptive relationships:” that the maximum level of safety for the child within a specific cultural context TEMPERAMENT AND ATTACHMENT: A SUMMARY • The temperamental characteristics with which you were born, your caregiver’s respons
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