Maternal Responsiveness to Infants in Three Societies: The United States, France, and Japan

Marc H. Bornstein, Catherine S. Tamis‐LeMonda, Joseph Tal, Pamela Ludemann, Sueko Toda, Charles W. Rahn, Marie‐Germaine ‐G Pêcheux, Hiroshi Azuma, Danya Vardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines and compares prominent characteristics of maternal responsiveness to infant activity during home‐based naturalistic interactions of mother‐infant dyads in New York City, Paris, and Tokyo. Both culture‐general and culture‐specific patterns of responsiveness emerged. For example, in all 3 locales infants behaved similarly, mothers also behaved similarly with respect to a hierarchy of response types, and mothers and infants manifest both specificity and mutual appropriateness in their interactions: Mothers responded to infants' exploration of the environment with encouragement to the environment, to infants' vocalizing nondistress with imitation, and to infants' vocalizing distress with nurturance. Differences in maternal responsiveness among cultures occurred to infant looking rather than to infant vocalizing and in mothers' emphasizing dyadic versus extradyadic loci of interaction. Universals of maternal responsiveness, potential sources of cultural variation, and implications of similarities and differences in responsiveness for child development in different cultural contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-821
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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