Studies conducted in Western countries document the special role of mother-infant face-to-face exchanges for early emotional development including social smiling. A few cross-cultural studies have shown that the western pattern of face-to-face communication is absent in traditional rural cultures, without identifying other processes that promote emotional co-regulation. The present study compared three different samples: Western middle-class families in Italy, rural traditional Nso farmer families in Cameroon, and West African sub-Saharan immigrant families in Italy using biweekly observations of 20 mother-infant dyads from each cultural context from age 4 to 12 weeks. Longitudinal sequential analysis of maternal and infant behaviors showed that from as early as 4 weeks, in Italian dyads maternal affectionate talking is linked with infant active attention to mother in sequences of face-to-face contact; this link fosters the subsequent emergence of infant smiling/cooing, and then sequences of positive feedback between infant and maternal emotional expressions that, by the 3rd month, dynamically stabilize. In contrast, for Cameroonian/Nso dyads over the 2nd and 3rd month, maternal motor stimulation marked by rhythmic vocalizing is linked with infant active attention to surroundings. The relatively few smiling/cooing actions of Nso babies at their mothers were answered mainly with tactile stimulation that did not foster the maintenance of face-to-face visual contact. Finally, West African immigrant dyads showed a combination of both face-to-face and sensorimotor co-regulated exchanges observed in their new and native cultures. These findings suggest that emotional co-regulation in early infancy can occur via multiple, culture-specific pathways that may be substantially different from the western pattern of face-to-face communication.

Culture-specific development of early mother-infant emotional co-regulation: Italian, Cameroonian, and West African immigrant dyads

LAVELLI M.;Carra C.;Rossi G.;Keller H.
2019

Abstract

Studies conducted in Western countries document the special role of mother-infant face-to-face exchanges for early emotional development including social smiling. A few cross-cultural studies have shown that the western pattern of face-to-face communication is absent in traditional rural cultures, without identifying other processes that promote emotional co-regulation. The present study compared three different samples: Western middle-class families in Italy, rural traditional Nso farmer families in Cameroon, and West African sub-Saharan immigrant families in Italy using biweekly observations of 20 mother-infant dyads from each cultural context from age 4 to 12 weeks. Longitudinal sequential analysis of maternal and infant behaviors showed that from as early as 4 weeks, in Italian dyads maternal affectionate talking is linked with infant active attention to mother in sequences of face-to-face contact; this link fosters the subsequent emergence of infant smiling/cooing, and then sequences of positive feedback between infant and maternal emotional expressions that, by the 3rd month, dynamically stabilize. In contrast, for Cameroonian/Nso dyads over the 2nd and 3rd month, maternal motor stimulation marked by rhythmic vocalizing is linked with infant active attention to surroundings. The relatively few smiling/cooing actions of Nso babies at their mothers were answered mainly with tactile stimulation that did not foster the maintenance of face-to-face visual contact. Finally, West African immigrant dyads showed a combination of both face-to-face and sensorimotor co-regulated exchanges observed in their new and native cultures. These findings suggest that emotional co-regulation in early infancy can occur via multiple, culture-specific pathways that may be substantially different from the western pattern of face-to-face communication.
early mother-infant emotional co-regulation
culture
emotional expressiveness
emotion socialization
acculturation
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/988813
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