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Chapter 4: Cultural and Developmental Processes
Culture and Temperament
# characteristics we are born with determine, to some extent, how our caregivers react and interact with us,
initiating the lifelong process of socialization
# 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 that exists from birth
Traditional Knowledge
# Thomas and Chess have described 3 major categories of temperament:
o Easy temperament: regular, adaptable, mildly intense style of behavior that is positive and responsive
o Difficult temperament is an intense, irregular, withdrawing style generally marked by negative moods
o Slow to warm up infants need time to make transitions in activity and experiences. They may withdraw
initially or respond negatively, given time and support they will adapt and react positively
# Goodness fit is the interaction of a child’s temperament with that of parents; it seems to be key to the
development of personality
o Parental reactions to a child’s temperament can promote stability or instability in the child’s
temperamental responses to the environment. The parents responses to the child’s temperament may
also affect subsequent attachment
Cross-cultural Studies on Temperament
# if children of other cultures have different temperaments at birth, they will respond to the environment
differently; they will evoke responses from the environment and caregivers that are different
# differences in temperament and environmental response should produce a fundamental differences in the
learning and social experiences of those children and consequently in their worldview and culture as they
grow older
# Chinese infants are less active, less irritable, and less vocal than American and Irish infants
# There is a connection b/w maternal BP and the childs irritability
# African American babies scored higher on motor abilitiesbehaviors involved muscle movement and
Cross-Cultural Studies Using the Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (NBAS)
# NBAS is used to assess newborns behaviors in the first 30 days of life. It is thought to give an indication
of temperamental characteristics of newborns
# Saco-Pollit investigated how altitude may relate to newborn behaviors and found that in comparison with
low-altitude infants, those raised at high altitudes were less attentive, less responsive and less active and
had more difficult time quieting themselves.
# Studies with NBAS illuminate how differences in temperament across cultures must be considered in
relation to the cultural practices of infant care giving, cultural goals for appropriate infant behaviors, and
cultural ideas on the capabilities of infants; they also suggest that temperamental differences across
cultures are indeed evident, even in infants only a few days after birth
Temperament and Learning Culture
# interaction b/w parent’s responses and infant temperament is key to understanding development of
culture and socialization processes
# the quiet temperament and placidity that are notable in infants from Asian and Native American
backgrounds are probably further stabilized in later infancy and childhood by the response of the mothers
# differences in infant temperament may make it easier for parents of different cultures to engage in
parenting styles and behaviors that teach and reinforce their particular cultural practices
# temperament may serve as a baseline biological predisposition of the infant that allows this type of
learning to occur
# the cultural differences we find concerning temperament, evident very early in life, may give us a clue to
what kinds of personalities and behaviors are valued in a culture as an adult
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# child’s temperament and the environmental response to their temperamental style will most likely result
in differences in the leaning and social experience of those children and consequently in their behaviors,
personalities and worldviews as they become adults
The Goodness of Fit b/w Temperament and Culture
# adaptiveness of an infant’s temperament style to their development may be specific to the immediate
# particular type of temperament may be adaptive in one culture and maladaptive in another
# DeVries’s study highlights the need to consider the cultural context in analyzing the role of a child’s
characteristics in their development; findings also caution us about how we label the different
temperamental styles
o Example: during a drought the “difficult child would have higher chances of surviving than a less
difficult child; but in a normal environment difficult kids piss you off
# The way we interpret an infant’s disposition and behaviors must be considered in relation to the specific
culture; the same dispositions and behaviors may have different meanings when placed in different
cultural context
Sources Behind Temperamental Differences
# possible that differences in temperament reflect differences in genetics and reproductive histories
# environmental and cultural pressures over generations may have helped to produce minor biological
differences in infants through a functionally adaptive process
# the cultural experiences of the mother during pregnancy may contribute to a prenatal environment that
modifies an infant’s biological composition to correspond to those cultural practices
# temperamental differences that are evident from birth contribute to the personality differences we observe
in adults of different cultures
# it is important to understand the magnitude of their contributions as building blocks in the development
of adult members of the culture of the world
# cross-cultural research suggests that there are group differences across cultures in infant’s and children’s
temperaments; these differences may be for many factors!what temperamental styles are valued in each
culture, specific environmental demands or physiological aspects of the mother
# examining the interaction b/w the child’s temperament and the care giving environment into which they
are born can help us understand the process of how we eventually learn to internalize the values, attitudes
and behaviors appropriate to our culture
Culture and Attachment
# attachment refers to the special bond that develops b/w the infant and their primary caregiver
# quality of attachment has lifelong effects on our relationships with loved ones
# attachment provides child with emotional security; once attached, babies are distressed by separation
from their parents
# study on rhesus monkeys by Harlow shows the importance of contact and physical comfort in the
development of attachment
Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment
# his evolutionary theory of attachment states that infants must have a preprogrammed, biological basis for
becoming attached to their caregivers; innate behavioral repertoire includes smiling and cooling to elicit
physical attachment behaviors on the part of the mother
# he argues that attachment relationships b/w caregiver and child functioned as a survival strategy: infants
had a greater chance of survival if they remained close to the mother for comfort and protection
Ainsworth’s Classification System of Attachment
# study in Uganda led to the tripartite classification system of attachment relationships b/w infants and their
# secure: become distressed when mother leaves them but are easily comforted by her when she returns
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