"Tell me about it!" Mother-child reminiscing: A culture adaptive socialization strategy

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Title: "Tell me about it!" Mother-child reminiscing: A culture adaptive socialization strategy
Authors: Schröder, Lisa
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Heidi Keller
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Rosa Maria Puca
Abstract: This dissertation presents three studies that examined the effects of diverse cultural backgrounds on maternal socialization strategies and how these were related to the development of their pre-school aged children. Specifically, the investigations focused on mother-child discourses about past events when children were three and four years of age. The present work systematically applied the ecocultural approach by investigating relatively homogenous samples, which were selected based on population parameters and sociodemographic characteristics. These sociocultural contexts represented three different cultural models: (1) the model of psychological autonomy (urban middle-class families from Western societies), (2) the model of relational adaptation (rural farming families from no-Western societies), and (3) the model of autonomy-relatedness (urban middle-class families from non-Western societies). We could demonstrate that the three cultural models manifest in mother-child reminiscing: both, how mothers and children reminisced -the structure- and what they talked about -the content. Mothers of the psychological autonomous contexts structured conversations with many elaborations and evaluations in order to actively involve the child to participate. On the content level, conversations were child-centered, with many child references and talk about personal judgments and opinions. Consequently, children were more expressive and self-centered in these contexts. Thus, conversations mirror the socialization strategy and social roles associated with the cultural model of psychological autonomy: The mother treats the child as a quasi-equal interlocutor and reinforces the child to express her- or himself. Mothers of relational adapted contexts structured conversations rather rigidly by using many repetitions, and few elaborations and evaluations. On the content level, they focused more on social contexts than on the child compared to the autonomous contexts. Accordingly, children contributed less information to conversations and showed a greater focus on social contexts. Thus, conversations mirror the socialization strategy and social roles associated with the cultural model of relational adaptation: The mother is the expert and the child the adaptive apprentice. There was greater heterogeneity for conversational structure and content of mothers and children from autonomous-related contexts. However, overall they mirrored the hybrid orientation in their cultural emphases. The different reminiscing styles and thematic foci were thus meaningful within the different sociocultural environments and fostered children’s cultural development of becoming a competent societal member. Furthermore, we could also demonstrate variations within the elaborative style of mothers all valuing autonomy. Thus, when looking at more specific categories, differences also existed among cultural contexts with the same cultural model. Children’s internalization of the respective cultural orientation was also mirrored in another, adult independent task we conducted: children’s self-drawings. Children of autonomous contexts drew themselves bigger -pronounced and space-demanding- whereas children of the relational contexts drew themselves smaller -mirroring greater self-effacement. Drawings of children from the autonomous-related contexts were intermediate in size. Correlation patterns among maternal and child variables varied across the different cultural contexts. Thus, the studies support the notion that psychological processes have to be considered and interpreted in relation to the sociocultural context in which they unfold. This refers to level-oriented (mean differences) as well as functional (correlation based) analyses: Becoming a competent member of a specific cultural context requires very different skills within universal domains, such as mother-child discourse. Additionally, in this process the effect of socialization strategies on the adults’ part may vary across different sociocultural contexts. Results are also discussed in light of practical implications for culture sensitive intervention programs.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-2012032010071
Subject Keywords: cultural models; child development; autobiographical memory; mother-child reminiscing
Issue Date: 20-Mar-2012
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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