The cultural context of infant development: Variability, specificity, and universality

Yana A. Kuchirko, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Researchers in developmental science often examine parenting and child development by ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups, frequently highlighting group differences in parent and infant behaviors. A sole focus on differences, however, obscures notable variability that exists within each community. Moreover, categories such as ethnicity and race are often assumed to encompass shared cultural backgrounds, which risks conflating race, ethnicity, and culture in psychological research. In this chapter, we examine cultural specificity and within-group heterogeneity that characterizes parenting and child development across socio-economic, ethnic, and racial groups. Drawing upon our work on ethnically and socioeconomically diverse parents and infants, we document the between-group differences, within-group variation, and universal processes in the form and content of parent-infant interactions. Most centrally, we highlight the role of family economic, human, and social capital in explaining the variability in parent-infant interactions across racial, ethnic, and cultural groups

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChild Development at the Intersection of Race and SES
EditorsDaphne A. Henry, Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Portia Miller
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)9780128176467
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
ISSN (Print)0065-2407


  • Cultural differences
  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Parent-infant interactions
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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