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Variance and Invariance in the Mother-Infant Interaction: A Cross-Cultural Study

Ban, Peggy L.; Lewis, Michael
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Spencer Foundation, Africa, Cross-Cultural Studies, Developmental Psychology, Infants, Mothers, Netherlands, Parent Child Relationship, Senegal, United States, Yugoslavia, Zambia


This document reports on a cross-cultural study of mother- infant interactions. Focus is on the issue of variance and invariance in these interactions across cultures. Amerian and Yugoslavia mother-infant pairs were observed over long periods of time in a naturalistic setting. Also available data on Dutch, Zambian, and Sengalese mother and infants were analyzed, so that five cultures were compared. Results indicated that there was considerable consistency in terms of the caregiving the infants received. This was discussed in relation to the invariances that exist across human cultures. Further discussion emphasized the danger of misinterpretation when behavior is studied out of context. To avoid this, it is necessary to be extremely familiar with the culture under question. (Author/DP) (34pp.)

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