Title

The cultural patterning of beliefs and behaviors among middle-class Anglo and Puerto Rican mother-infant dyads during feeding and social play

Date of Completion

January 2001

Keywords

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study explores the cultural patteming of maternal beliefs and behaviors among middle-class Anglo and Puerto Rican mother-infant dyads in two daily situations over the first year of life. Increased understanding of the development of maternal beliefs and behavior patterns can inform developmental psychology and create knowledge that is culturally sensitive. Given the increasing diversity of the United States, greater understanding of normative yet diverse models of child development can lead to a developmental psychology that more accurately reflects the population. ^ As part of a larger study on cultural and mother-infant interactions (Robin Harwood, Principal Investigator), 60 middle-class mothers (32 Anglo mothers from Hartford, Connecticut, and 28 Puerto Rican mothers from San Juan, Puerto Rico) were interviewed and videotaped in their homes when their infant was 4-, 8-, and 12-months of age. Mothers were interviewed about the long-term socialization goals that they held for their children and were videotaped while feeding and playing with their infants. ^ Results indicated that Anglo mothers valued long-term socialization goals related to self maximization more than the Puerto Rican mothers whereas Puerto Rican mothers valued long-term socialization goals related to proper demeanor more than the Anglo mothers. Videotaped mother-infant interactions indicated that long-term socialization goals were often reflected in these interaction patterns. In particular, the Anglo mothers appeared to be socializing their infants to be autonomous agents by allowing infants to lead play interactions and feed themselves. The Puerto Rican mothers seemed to be socializing their infants to be more attentive to others through their more mother-directed play and feeding patterns. ^ It was hypothesized that these patterns would increase over time. Many variables confirmed this hypothesis. It seems that maternal socialization goals are reflected in their interaction patterns at all three timepoints yet these patterns appear to interact with infant developmental stages in culturally distinct ways. ^