Child training and personality: a cross-cultural study

Yale University Press New Haven Published In Pages: 353
By Whiting, John W.M., Child, Irvin L.


The authors put forward a theoretical model called "personality integration of culture." At the heart of the model is the idea that psychological processes may help explain why certain aspects of culture are related to other aspects. To test this model they focus on theories and therapies regarding illness and they use psychoanalytic ideas on positive and negative fixation to suggest how differences in child-rearing customs may account for different ideas about the causes of illness. The strongest results relate to socialization anxiety in a particular area of socialization (e.g., oral, dependency, and aggression) amd respective causes of illness. Results regarding negative fixation are generally supported, whereas positive fixation is not.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic Reports

Hypotheses (18)

"Societies low in oral socialization anxiety tend not to have oral explanations of illness and . . . societies high in oral socialization anxiety do tend to have oral explanations of illness" (157, 164)Supported
"[There is a] relation between dependence socialization anxiety and dependence explanations of illness" (160, 164)Supported
"[There is a] relation between aggression socialization anxiety and aggressive explanations of illness" (161)Supported
"[There is a] relation between anal socialization anxiety and anal explanations of illness; . . . between sexual socialization anxiety and sexual explanations of illness" (158, 159)Not Supported
". . . explanations of illness [oral, anal, sexual, dependence, aggression] tend to be related to low initial satisfaction of the corresponding system of behavior" (167, 168)Supported
[The hypothesis of positive fixation:] "In any society, the greater the custom potential of initial satisfaction in any system of behavior, the greater will be the custom potential of therapeutic practices which involve the performance of responses in that system" (192)Not Supported
"Societies . . . having child training practices . . . likely to produce . . . satisfaction for sexual behavior [are also likely to have sexual] therapeutic practices" (196)Supported
"Oral therapies such as the ingestion of medicines are found to occur most frequently in societies which have a high rating on progressive oral satisfaction" (203)Supported
Societies which have the belief that defecation or urination has therapeutic value should be more likely to have progressive anal satisfaction (203-204)Not Supported
"Dependence avoidance therapies (isolating patient, removing him from his home for the duration of his illness) . . . [are found in societies ranked high in] socialization anxieties" (209, 211)Supported
"Societies with a high socialization anxiety tend to be higher on the index of patient responsibility [patient blames illness on himself] than do societies which are low in average socialization anxiety" (234)Supported
"Where the parents play a less important role in the socialization of their children, the children will tend to develop weaker superegos than where the parents play a more important role" (246)Not Supported
"The strength of guilt feelings characterizing a society, as measured by the custom potential of patient responsibility for illness, will be measured by . . . the relative importance of relatives as secondary agents of socialization" (248, 251)Not Supported
"Societies high in initial nurturance [dependence drive] should tend more strongly to blame illness on the patient himself than societies which are low in initial nurturance of the child" (238)Not Supported
"Relative importance of love-oriented techniques of punishment by parents will be positively correlated with the importance of patient responsibility in the explanation of illness" (244)Supported
"[There is] a negative relationship between age of socialization and strength of guilt feelings . . . [in the following aspects of socialization in order of strongest negative association--training in heterosexual inhibition, modesty, weaning, independence]" (256, 257)Supported
"If fear of others is based on overgeneralization of anxiety then the custom potential of fear of others should be correlated positively with average socialization anxiety in systems of behavior [notably oral, sexual, aggressive]" (267, 281)Supported
"Fear of others [is related to] . . . initial anxiety . . . in aggression systems of behavior" (282, 283)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas