Contextual variation in young children’s acquisition of social-emotional skills

Autoři: Dana C. McCoy aff001;  Jorge Cuartas aff001;  Marcus Waldman aff001;  Günther Fink aff002
Působiště autorů: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, United States of America aff001;  Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223056


This study examined variation in the timing of 5,447 infants’ and toddlers’ reported acquisition of 12 basic social-emotional skills across and within 11 developing and developed country sites. Although children differed significantly across sites in when they attained social-emotional skills on average (e.g., M age Brazil = 20.50 months vs. M age India = 26.92 months), there was also substantial heterogeneity across skills. For example, children in Pakistan were reported to demonstrate sympathy on average seven months earlier than their peers in Ghana, whereas the opposite was true for sharing. Overall, country-level health and education were strongly associated (r > .60) with earlier site-level skill attainment. In addition to heterogeneity across sites, we also observed notable within-site variability in skill development (ICCs = .03 to .38). Future research is needed to identify sources of variability and how to promote skills that matter within a given context.

Klíčová slova:

Behavior – Cross-cultural studies – Emotions – Health education and awareness – Children – Prosocial behavior – Socioeconomic aspects of health – Toddlers


1. Bronfenbrenner U, Morris PA. The bioecological model of human development. In: Damon W, Lerner RM, eds. Handbook of Child Psychology: 6th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 2006. P. 793–828.

2. Sameroff A. A unified theory of development: A dialectic integration of nature and nurture. Child development. 2010;81(1);6–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01378.x 20331651

3. Chen X, Hastings PD, Rubin KH, Chen H, Cen G, Stewart SL. Child-rearing attitudes and behavioral inhibition in Chinese and Canadian toddlers: A cross-cultural study. Developmental psychology. 1998;34(4):677. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.34.4.677 9681259

4. Keller H, Otto H. The cultural socialization of emotion regulation during infancy. Journal of cross-cultural psychology. 2009;40(6):996–1011.

5. Tamis LeMonda CS, Way N, Hughes D, Yoshikawa H, Kalman RK, Niwa EY. Parents' goals for children: The dynamic coexistence of individualism and collectivism in cultures and individuals. Social development (Oxford, England). 2008;17(1):183–209.

6. Rogoff B. The cultural nature of human development. New York: Oxford University Press; 2003.

7. Super CM, Harkness S. The developmental niche: A conceptualization at the interface of child and culture. International journal of behavioral development. 1986;9(4):545–69.

8. Onis M. WHO Motor Development Study: windows of achievement for six gross motor development milestones. Acta paediatrica. 2006; Suppl 95(S450):86–95.

9. Super CM. Environmental effects on motor development: The case of ‘African infant precocity’. Developmental medicine & child neurology. 1976:18(5):561–67.

10. Miller KF, Stigler JW. Counting in Chinese: Cultural variation in a basic cognitive skill. Cognitive development. 1987;2(3):279–305.

11. Gopnik A, Choi S, Baumberger T. Cross-linguistic differences in early semantic and cognitive development. Cognitive development. 1996;11(2):197–225.

12. Trommsdorff G, Cole PM. Emotion, self-regulation, and social behavior in cultural contexts. In: Chen X, Rubin KH, eds. New York: The Guilford Press, Inc; 2011. p. 131–63.

13. Denham SA. Social-emotional competence as support for school readiness: What is it and how do we assess it? Early education and development. 2006;17(1):57–89.

14. Heckman JJ. Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children. Science (New York, N.Y.). 2006;312(5782):1900–02.

15. Moffitt TE, Arseneault L, Belsky D, Dickson N, Hancox RJ, Harrington H, et al. A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011;108(7):2693–98. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010076108 21262822

16. Friedlmeier W, Corapci F, Cole PM. Emotion socialization in cross cultural perspective. Social and personality psychology compass. 2011;5(7):410–27.

17. Cole PM, Bruschi CJ, Tamang BL. Cultural differences in children's emotional reactions to difficult situations. Child development. 2002;73(3):983–96. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00451 12038564

18. House BR, Silk JB, Henrich J, Barrett HC, Scelza BA, Boyette AH, et al. Ontogeny of prosocial behavior across diverse societies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013;110(36):14586–91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221217110 23959869

19. Munroe RL. Altruism and Collectivism: An Exploratory Study in Four Cultures. Cross-cultural research: official journal of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research [journal on the Internet]. 2018 Jul [cited 2019 Nov 5]; 52(3):p334–45. Available from:

20. Keller H, Yovsi R, Borke J, Kärtner J, Jensen H, Papaligoura Z. Developmental consequences of early parenting experiences: Self‐recognition and self‐regulation in three cultural communities. Child development. 2004;75(6):1745–60. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00814.x 15566377

21. Carter AS, Briggs-Gowan MJ, Davis NO. Assessment of young children's social-emotional development and psychopathology: Recent advances and recommendations for practice. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. 2004:45(1):109–34. doi: 10.1046/j.0021-9630.2003.00316.x 14959805

22. Fernald LC, Prado EL, Kariger P, Raikes A. A toolkit for measuring early childhood development in low-and middle-income countries [book on the Internet]. Washington, DC: World Bank; 2017 [cited 2019 Nov 5]. Available from: World Bank Group Open Knowledge Repository

23. Payton JW, Wardlaw DM, Graczyk PA, Bloodworth MR, Tompsett CJ, Weissberg RP. Social and emotional learning: A framework for promoting mental health and reducing risk behavior in children and youth. The Journal of school health. 2000;70(5):179–85. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2000.tb06468.x 10900594

24. McCoy DC, Waldman M, CREDI Field Team, Fink G. Measuring early childhood development at a global scale: Evidence from the Caregiver-Reported Early Development Instruments. Early childhood research quarterly. 2018;45:58–68.

25. Kane C. Reliably measuring children’s developmental status: Mode of administration and the saving brains early child development scale. Innovating for Equity: Creating Opportunity Through Research; 2016 Mar 25; Cambridge (MA) [conference proceedings on the Internet]. Harvard Graduate School of Education (MA): [cited 2019 Nov 5]. Available from: URL:

26. Jukes M, Gabrieli P, Mgonda NL, Nsolezi F, Jeremiah G, Tibenda J, et al. “Respect is an Investment”: Community perceptions of social and emotional competencies in early childhood from Mtwara, Tanzania. Global education review. 2018;5(2):160–88.

27. Keller H, Otto H. The cultural socialization of emotion regulation during infancy. Journal of cross-cultural psychology. 2009;40(6):996–1011.

28. Human Development Reports [report on the Internet]. New York; United Nations Development Programme; 2016. Available from:

29. Skills for social progress: The power of social and emotional skills [book on the Internet]. Paris: OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing; 2015. Available from

30. Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning objectives [report on the Internet]. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; 2017. Available from

31. Varela AD, Kelcey J, Reyes J, Gould M, Sklar J. Learning and resilience: The crucial role of social and emotional well-being in contexts of adversity [brief on the Internet]. Washington DC: World Bank Group (2013 Dec 1). Available from

32. Dawson-McClure S, Calzada EJ, Brotman LM. Engaging parents in preventive interventions for young children: Working with cultural diversity within low-income, urban neighborhoods. Prevention science: the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research. 2017;18(6):660–70.

33. McCoy DC, Peet ED, Ezzati M, Danaei G, Black MM, Sudfeld CR, et al. Early childhood developmental status in low-and middle-income countries: national, regional, and global prevalence estimates using predictive modeling. PLoS medicine. [journal on the Internet]. 2016 June 7; [updated 2017 Jan 30]. 3(6), e1002034. Available from

34. De Feyter JJ, Winsler A. The early developmental competencies and school readiness of low-income, immigrant children: Influences of generation, race/ethnicity, and national origins. Early childhood research quarterly. 2009;24(4):411–31.

35. McWayne CM, Cheung K, Wright LEG, Hahs-Vaughn DL. Patterns of school readiness among head start children: Meaningful within-group variability during the transition to kindergarten. Journal of educational psychology. 2012;104(3):862.

36. Altafim ERP, McCoy DC, Linhares MBM. Relations between parenting practices, socioeconomic status, and child behavior in Brazil. Children and youth services review. 2018;89:93–102.

37. Pitchik HO, Fawzi WW, McCoy DC, Darling AM, Abioye AI, Tesha F, Smith ER, Mogusi F, Sudfeld CR. Prenatal nutrition, stimulation, and exposure to punishment are associated with early child motor, cognitive, language, and socioemotional development in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Child: care, health and development. 2018;44(6):841–49.

38. Rubin KH, Burgess KB, Hastings PD. Stability and social–behavioral consequences of toddlers’ inhibited temperament and parenting behaviors. Child development. 2002;73(2):483–95. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00419 11949904

39. Yoshikawa H, Aber JL, Beardslee WR. The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: Implications for prevention. The American psychologist. 2012;67(4):272–84. doi: 10.1037/a0028015 22583341

40. Eisenberg N, Cumberland A, Spinrad TL. Parental socialization of emotion. Psychological inquiry. 1998;9(4):241–73. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli0904_1 16865170

41. Eisenberg N, Spinrad TL, Knafo-Noam A. Prosocial development. In: Lamb ME, Lerner RM, eds. Handbook of child psychology and developmental science, Vol. 3: Socioemotional Processes. 7th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2015. p. 610–56.

42. Izard CE. Innate and universal facial expressions: Evidence from developmental and cross-cultural research. Psychological bulletin. 1994;115(2):288–99. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.115.2.288 8165273

43. Sameroff A. A unified theory of development: A dialectic integration of nature and nurture. Child development. 2010;81(1):6–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01378.x 20331651

44. Rogoff B, Mistry J, Göncü A, Mosier C, Chavajay P, Heath SB. Guided participation in cultural activity by toddlers and caregivers. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. 1993; i–179.

45. Chen X. Growing up in a collectivist culture: Socialization and socioemotional development in Chinese children. In: Comunian AL, Gielen UP, eds. International perspectives on human development. Lengerich, Germany: Pabst Science Publishers; 2000. p. 331–53.

46. Munroe RL. Altruism and collectivism: An exploratory study in four cultures. Cross-cultural research: official journal of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. 2018;52(3):334–45.

47. Triandis HC. The self and social behavior in differing cultural contexts. Psychological review. 1989;96(3):506.

48. Trommsdorff G, Cole PM, Heikamp T. Cultural variations in mothers' intuitive theories: a preliminary report on interviewing mothers from five nations about their socialization of children's emotions. Global studies of childhood. 2012;2(2):158–69.

49. Eisenberg N, Mussen PH. The roots of prosocial behavior in children. New York: Cambridge University Press; 1989.

50. Levine RV, Norenzayan A, Philbrick K. Cross-cultural differences in helping strangers. Journal of cross-cultural psychology. 2001;32(5):543–60.

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11