Parents’ Cultural Values Affect Babies' Temperament, Study Finds

February 20, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. temperament / ˈtɛm pər ə mənt / (n.) – the totality of the mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person
Example Several psychological tests claim to reveal a person’s temperament.

2. universal /ˌyu nəˈvɜr səl / (adj.) – true for all people, situations, etc.
Example: Many scientists confirmed the results of the experiment and proved that they were universal.

3. shed light on / ʃɛd laɪt ɒn / (idiom) – to clarify something
Example: The investigation shed light on the root of the crime.

4. animated / ˈæn əˌmeɪ tɪd / (adj.) – characterized by being very energetic and full of action
Example: She told the story in an animated way, with several gestures and sound effects.

5. expressive / ɪkˈsprɛs ɪv / (adj.) – open to showing emotions
Example: She is very expressive and likes writing letters to her friends.


Read the text below.
A multinational study has found that parents’ cultural values may influence the temperament of their children. 

The study, which lasted for five years, involved infants from 23 countries. The goal of the research was to find out if generalizations about infant behavior are universal, considering that majority of psychological studies are conducted in the West. The researchers also believe that the differences in the children’s temperament may shed light on what parts of a person’s personality arise from culture.

Using the Infant Behavioral Questionnaire-Revised, which one of the study’s authors helped create in the 1990s, the researchers collected data from mothers in each country. In the questionnaire, the mothers had to report how often their children manifest 191 different behaviors at six and twelve months after birth.

Partial results comparing children from the United States, Chile, South Korea, and Poland were released in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology. The study found that the infants showed temperaments that were highly influenced by their parents’ cultural values.

For instance, the study found that Chilean kids are very energetic and have trouble concentrating for long periods. This temperament may be influenced by South American parents’ animated behavior when interacting with their children. Meanwhile, South Korean babies exhibited long attention spans and were less active, which may be related to how parents in some parts of Asia value a high level of control among their kids.

In addition, results also showed that Polish infants were found to be more expressive of sadness than other babies, which may be related to how the Polish culture encourages expressing emotions and feelings. On the other hand, US children were seen to be hesitant in showing negative emotions, which may be because the American culture is not very tolerant of negativity.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that the cultural values of parents can really affect their babies’ temperament? Why or why not?
·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of inheriting one’s values from one’s parents?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that values are completely different across different cultures? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the factors that shape a person’s values?

February 20, 2017