The Influence of Maternal Socialization on Infants’ Social Evaluation in Two Cultures

Yuki Shimizu, Sawa Senzaki, James S. Uleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although a growing body of research has explored the early development of social evaluation, no research has directly compared social evaluations of infants between different cultures. In addition, there has been little understanding regarding socialization's effects on this ability. The goal of this study was to expand on earlier findings on social evaluation in infants by investigating a broader sample from two cultures, and to explore the influence of maternal socialization on infants’ social evaluation. Using the violation of expectations and the preferential reaching paradigm, four groups aged 6-, 9-, 12-, and 15–18 months and their mothers from Japan and the United States (159 dyads) were compared in terms of spontaneous social evaluations. Japanese and European American infants showed similar performance in dishabituation to the inconsistent behavior and in their reaching preference for prosocial over antisocial agents, indicating that the emergence of spontaneous social evaluation is not culture-specific. Furthermore, our study provides a novel finding regarding the relationship between mothers’ socially evaluative speech and infants’ preference for prosocial over antisocial agents. These results suggest that the development of sociomoral understanding results from complicated interactions among evolutionary, cognitive, and social factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-766
Number of pages19
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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