Multilevel factors affecting early socioemotional development in humans


Journal Article (Review)

© 2018, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply. Socioemotional climate in the family environment is critical to a child’s socioemotional development. This focused literature review examines some central dynamics of that relation, viz. how positive and negative parent-child interactions influence genetic, neurodevelopmental, affective, and behavioral adjustment in children across cultures. Our narrative review of the extant empirical research indicates that, first, socioemotional caregiving experienced in infancy contributes to the postnatal genome and development of the brain in that, for example, early parent-child interactions affect genetic expression and the integrity of white matter neural tracts involved in emotion regulation, social cognition, and behavioral adjustment and presumably do so in culturally common ways. Second, positive parenting (warmth and acceptance) favorably affects child socioemotional adjustment, whereas negative parenting (rejection and punishment) adversely affects child socioemotional adjustment, in specific and fairly consistent ways across cultures. Third, very negative parenting, specifically corporal punishment, anticipates poor child socioemotional behavioral adjustment across cultures. These dynamics are situated in broader caregiving contexts reflecting parent and child gender, parent-child relationship quality, and cultural normativeness. Overall, contemporary research emphasizes the importance of parent-child socioemotional dynamics and cultural interpretation for understanding long-term socioemotional development in human children.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cui, J; Mistur, EJ; Wei, C; Lansford, JE; Putnick, DL; Bornstein, MH

Published Date

  • October 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 72 / 10

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0340-5443

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00265-018-2580-9

Citation Source

  • Scopus