Self in context: Autonomy and relatedness in Japanese and U.S. mother-preschooler dyads

Tracy A. Dennis, Pamela M. Cole, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ichiro Mizuta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Cultural differences and similarities in socialization during two contrasting laboratory tasks were examined in 30 Japanese mothers and their preschoolers, both temporarily residing in the United States, and 30 U.S. mothers and their preschoolers (age: M = 55.8 months, SD = 4.9). Mother and child actions, speech, emotion, and attention were coded from videotaped observations during a free play task and waiting task. Cross-cultural comparisons showed that U.S. mothers had more conversations that emphasized individual experiences, more often acted as playmates and used joint attention, maintained more physical distance, showed more positive emotions, and made more positive responses to child accomplishment. In contrast, Japanese mothers had more conversations that emphasized shared experiences, showed more divided attention, and maintained social role distinctions. Similar, but fewer cultural differences emerged for children. However, maternal and child characteristics also varied by task context. The results suggested an emphasis on autonomy in U.S. dyads and an emphasis on relatedness in Japanese dyads, but the interactions with task context revealed the coexistence of autonomy and relatedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1803-1817
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Self in context: Autonomy and relatedness in Japanese and U.S. mother-preschooler dyads'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this