Ching-Yu Huang and Michael E. Lamb. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology published online 29 November 2013.
Children themselves play active roles in shaping their developmental trajectories. The constant interplay of a wide range of biological, familial, social, and cultural factors shapes development. In this study, we examined the links between maternal control and 5- to 7-year-old children’s compliance in a cross-cultural sample (N = 89: 30 Chinese in Taiwan, 30 Chinese immigrants in the United Kingdom, and 29 nonimmigrant White English in the United Kingdom) using observational data. The results showed that the English mothers used less negative control and were more responsive than the Chinese immigrant mothers, and that the English mothers also showed more positive affect than both the Chinese immigrant and Taiwanese mothers. The Taiwanese children showed more situational compliance than the Chinese immigrant children, whereas there were no significant cultural differences in committed compliance and oppositional behaviour. Further regression analyses showed that committed compliance, situational compliance, and oppositional behaviour were associated with different predictors. Converging evidence from both observational tasks showed that committed compliance, moderated by surgency, appeared to increase as children grew older and was negatively influenced by maternal negative control. Different trends emerged for child opposition or noncompliance in the two tasks. In the Etch-a-Sketch task, noncompliance was accounted for by child age and temperament, but not by any maternal behaviour, whereas opposition in the clean-up task was not predicted by child age or temperament but was associated with maternal use of force. Finally, situational compliance could not be predicted by child age and temperament alone, but the addition of cultural group and maternal control significantly increased the prediction of situational compliance. These results suggested different pathways for the development of committed compliance, situational compliance, and opposition.