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Department of Psychology Gartstein Temperament Lab

U.S. Babies are more social than other kids – TIME


Babies born in the United States are more social and impulsive than those from some other countries, outlines a recent publication authored by Dr. Masha Gartstein.

East–west, collectivist-individualist: A cross-cultural examination of temperament in toddlers from Chile, Poland, South Korea, and the U.S.“, published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Oct 2016 – shows US kids are also, according to their moms, more likely to enjoy highly stimulating activities, less likely to be unhappy or angry and are easier to comfort when they do get upset.

Dutch babies smile more than US peers

A study by Gartstein et al in 2015 examined temperamental differences between U.S. and Dutch babies – and found infants born in the Netherlands are more likely to be happy and easier to soothe in the latter half of their first year. U.S. infants, on the other hand, were typically more active and vocal, said study co-author Maria Gartstein, a Washington State University associate professor of psychology.

The results of the study, published in the January 2015 print edition of the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, in many ways reflect American and Dutch parents’ unique cultural values, Gartstein said.

U.S. parents often emphasize the importance of stimulation, exposing their children to a wide variety of new experiences to promote independence, a cultural ideal. Parents in Holland are more likely to incorporate children into daily activities at home, placing strong value on the importance of rest and regularity.

A greater understanding of these values and the impact they have on an infant’s temperament will help psychologists fine-tune ways to prevent infant temperament issues from becoming behavioral problems later in life.Dutc