Socialization goals and parental directives in infancy: the theory and the practice

Katja Liebal, Vasu Reddy, K. Hicks, S. Jonnalagadda, B. Chintalapuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the relation between parents' explicit valuing of socialization goals and their behavior in naturalistic interaction with their infants. Parents of 26 infants from two different urban cultures (Portsmouth, United Kingdom, and Hyderabad, India) participated in this study. Using a multimethod approach, parents were observed in naturalistic interactions with their infants from 9.5 to 12.5 months, were given a socialization goals questionnaire, and were interviewed about their expectations and practices in relation to obtaining compliance to directives when the infants were 12.5 months. Parents in Hyderabad ranked relational goals and, in particular, the goal for compliance, significantly higher than parents in Portsmouth, and significantly higher than autonomous goals, whereas parents in Portsmouth ranked autonomous and relational goals equally. The group difference in the ranking of compliance was reflected in higher frequencies of parental directives in Hyderabad, but not in repetitions of directives or in lower acceptance of noncompliance. There were some significant correlations between ranking for compliance and the frequency of directive episodes or the likelihood of repeating a directive, but no relations at all with the likelihood of accepting noncompliance. Birth order significantly affected parent behavior, with parents of firstborns showing lower percentages of accepting noncompliance. The discrepancy between the expressed value for compliance and actual behavior in relation to obtaining it was partly explained through different parental discourse in the interviews, with more parents in Portsmouth adopting a “training“ approach to compliance, and more parents in Hyderabad approaching compliance as something that would “develop with age.“ Local contextual factors such as birth order as well as beliefs in the natural development of compliance with age might influence what parents do about noncompliance, independent of what they say about it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-131
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cognitive Education and Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Socialization goals and parental directives in infancy: the theory and the practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this