The emergent practice of infant compliance: an exploration in two cultures

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

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Complying with directives is an important indicator of developing cooperativeness and of the awareness of others‟ intentions for one‟s own actions. Nonetheless, we know little about the early emergence of compliance. The present longitudinal study explores this phenomenon in naturalistic settings in two cultural groups. Nine middle-class urban families in the UK and thirteen middle-class urban families in India were video-taped at home when their infants were 6.5, 8, 9.5, 11 and 12.5 months of age. Parental directives were present from 6.5 months, increasing with age in both groups, but with higher frequencies in India at all ages. Most directives were positive requests and communicated from a distance. In both groups two-thirds of the directives involved repetition of content with common routines. Compliance increased gradually with age in frequency but not as a proportion of opportunities to comply. The prevalence, but not the proportion, of compliance was earlier and more frequent in India. In both groups, the rate of change over age in the frequency of parental directives was always steeper than, but strongly related to, the rate of change in the frequency of infant compliance. The emergence of cooperation with requests is situationally-embedded and based on practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1754-1762
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


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