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REVIEWS Further Socialization Processes in the
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Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

Joan E. Grusec
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3 Canada;
email: grusec@psych.utoronto.ca

Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011. 62:243–69 Key Words

First published online as a Review in Advance on parenting, domains, antisocial behavior, prosocial behavior, values,
August 17, 2010
The Annual Review of Psychology is online at
psych.annualreviews.org Abstract
This article’s doi: Children learn moral values and social conventions through a process of
socialization, much of which involves parenting. The process is bidirec-
Copyright  c 2011 by Annual Reviews. tional and involves a complex interplay between evolutionary predispo-
All rights reserved
sitions and genetic and socio-cultural factors. Children’s perception of,
0066-4308/11/0110-0243$20.00 or assignment of meaning to, parenting interventions is central. Social-
ization occurs in different domains marked by different aspects of the
parent-child relationship and different underlying mechanisms. Each
domain requires different parenting actions that must be matched to
the domain in which the child is operating and that result in differ-
ent outcomes for the child. The domains include protection, mutual
reciprocity, control, guided learning, and group participation, and are
assumed to be operative in all cultures. The review concludes that chil-
dren need to experience their parents as supportive and understanding,
that they need structure, and that they need to feel they have some
degree of control over their own actions.

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

though technology and GDP advance, morals

Contents and society are treading water or, depending
on your choice of newspaper, sinking back into
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
decadence and barbarism. . . people yearn for
What is a Family? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
a sense of moral purpose.
The Bidirectionality of
Socialization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245 The Economist, December 19, 2009, pp. 37, 40
OVERVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
Development of a sense of moral purpose be-
gins early in life. It involves learning respect
SOCIALIZATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
for the welfare of other members of the social
Behavior Genetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
community. It requires that individuals accept
Molecular Genetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
societal values, attitudes, and behavioral stan-
How Do Genes Relate to Behavior?. 248
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dards that call for not causing physical or psy-

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
chological harm to others as well as assisting
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

others when they need help. It also includes
acceptance of conventional forms of behav-
PERSPECTIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
ior that may have less clear moral significance
Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
but that nevertheless facilitate the smooth con-
Mutual Reciprocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
duct of group interaction. Such acceptance is
Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
achieved through a process of socialization that
Guided Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
begins in infancy and continues through the life
Group Identification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
span. This process is the topic of the present
Summary of Domains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
Evidence for the Specificity
The focus of the review is on early socializa-
of Domains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
tion in the family and, specifically, the role of
Domains in Combination . . . . . . . . . . 259
parents in assisting children to incorporate into
their actions the attitudes, values, beliefs, and
INTERVENTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
behaviors of the larger culture. Socialization
Temperament and Parenting
theorists study antisocial behavior or external-
Interactions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
izing problems ranging from unconventional
behavior and noncompliance to aggression and
Interactions: Further
delinquency; prosocial behavior such as help-
Complexities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260
ing, sharing, and showing concern for others;
THE ROLE OF CULTURE . . . . . . . . . 261
and social competence, which might be consid-
The Universality of Domains . . . . . . . 261
ered a mix of antisocial and prosocial behaviors,
The Effect of Cultural Values
in that it includes the inhibition of antisocial
on Socialization Practices. . . . . . . . 261
actions and the adoption of prosocial ones. So-
Effects of Same Practices
cialization theorists also consider internalizing
in Different Cultures . . . . . . . . . . . . 261
problems such as depression, anxiety, and low
Universally Harmful Practices . . . . . . 262
self-esteem: These are some of the possible neg-
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
ative outcomes or side effects of socialization
experiences. This review provides a summary of
some of the ways in which socialization occurs.
INTRODUCTION In most cultures, families—more specifi-
In the rich world the idea of progress has cally, parent-child relationships—are the major
become impoverished. Through complacency context in which early socialization occurs.
and bitter experience, the scope of progress Parents are significant for a number of reasons.
has narrowed. The popular view is that, al- They are biologically prepared to care for

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the young as a way of achieving their own for successful family functioning (Patterson &
reproductive success. In the course of this Hastings 2007).
care, they teach the young how to regulate
emotions and live safely with others (Stayton
et al. 1971). They are also in a good position to The Bidirectionality of Socialization
build a warm and affectionate relationship with Socialization is not a one-way process, with
their children; such relationships facilitate the parents transmitting societal standards to their
socialization process. Parents are also powerful children. Children are active agents in the pro-
as socializers because in most societies they cess (Kuczynski 2003). They are biologically
are assigned the principal caregiving role; they prepared to be more or less easily socialized
control resources available to their children; in different aspects of their lives. They pro-
and they are in a position to manage their cess information relevant to socialization, ac-
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children’s environments to ensure they are cepting or discarding it as the case may be.
exposed to positive social influences. All this is They accept some forms of regulation more
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

not to say that siblings, peers, and other adults easily than others, in part because some ar-
are without influence. But that influence may eas of misbehavior such as physical and psy-
be less than some would have it. chological harm to others are more inherently
Consider the case of peers. Certainly peer problematic than others such as violations of
relationships become more important in ado- social conventions (Turiel 1998). Children im-
lescence, at least in a Western industrialized pose their own framework on parental influence
context (albeit not in many other cultural con- attempts, sometimes misconstruing them or ac-
texts), but they do not replace relationships tively rejecting them. They also socialize their
with parents. Instead, adolescents are seeking caregivers, modifying at least some of the be-
to become somewhat autonomous and inde- liefs and values of those caregivers. For this rea-
pendent of any outside influences–parents or son, socialization can be considered an event in
peers–in their thinking and actions. Accord- which parents assist or aid children to adopt the
ingly, resistance to peer pressure has been found values of their particular social context, rather
to increase through adolescence (Sumter et al. than one in which they impose those values on
2009). Moreover, there is ample evidence that their children. Some parents, of course, are less
good parenting practices can buffer adolescents adept than others at doing this, either because
against the negative effects of unhealthy peer they lack the skills necessary for the assistance
experiences (e.g., Pettit et al. 1999). And if one or because their own values differ from those of
moves beyond the Western European context, the larger social group.
it is the case that in many other cultures the This review describes the mechanisms by
family remains central throughout the whole which children acquire standards that are
life course (Rothbaum et al. 2000). relevant to socialization. The mechanisms
involve changes in emotional and cognitive
functioning that are reflected in behavioral
What is a Family? outcomes, with these outcomes the result
Families are taking on increasingly different of a complex combination of biological pre-
forms, beyond the traditional one of a married dispositions and social-cultural experiences.
mother and father and possibly siblings. Briefly Human evolutionary history influences the
noted here is strong evidence that family different ways humans respond as a species to
structure is not a determinant of successful different kinds of input. Genetic differences
parenting. Rather, it is family resources, social between members of the species affect the
support, quality of parent-child interactions way in which experiences are processed. And
and relationships, and the family’s emotional the kinds of social experiences individuals
climate and stability that are the prerequisites have interact with and have an impact on their

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 245

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

biological features. The process of development GENETICS AND SOCIALIZATION

involves a complex interplay among all these
Major strides have occurred in recent years in
the area of genetics and our understanding of
how the interplay between genetic and envi-
OVERVIEW ronmental influences takes place. Research in
epigenetics, for example, indicates that experi-
The scientific study of socialization began with
ence can directly alter gene expression with-
Freud and has a long theoretical tradition
out changing the DNA code of the affected
within psychology. One body of work moves
gene, with subsequent consequences for both
from attempts to marry psychoanalytic ap-
central nervous system development and be-
proaches with Hullian learning theory (e.g.,
havior (Meaney 2007). Evolutionary theorists
Miller & Dollard 1941), to social cognitive
have identified evolved, genetically mediated
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approaches as seen in the work of Albert

features of human behavior that predispose hu-
Bandura and his collaborators (e.g., Bandura
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

man beings in general to be more responsive

1977), to investigations of parenting styles and
to some experiences than to others (Bjorklund
attitudes that emerged from the work of social
& Pellegrini 2002). Genetic theorists have then
psychologists such as Kurt Lewin (e.g., Lewin
gone on to look at the biological source of in-
et al. 1939), to cognitive developmental ap-
dividual differences in human propensities that
proaches that focused on techniques of disci-
contribute to the development of antisocial and
pline and their impact on children (Hoffman
prosocial behavior as well as interact with social
1970). Most interest was in the development of
experiences in the child’s life.
conscience and self-regulation as well as of so-
cial competence. At the same time, attachment
theorists focused on parental responsiveness to
children’s distress and its impact on children’s Behavior Genetics
emotion regulation and their cognitive models Behavior geneticists assess the degree of
of relationships (Cassidy & Shaver 2008). Al- similarity between those individuals with
though both bodies of research assessed socio- known differences in genetic composition
emotional development, there has been, in fact, (for example, but not limited to, monozygotic
little overlap in theoretical approaches or the twins who have all their genes in common
kinds of problems studied. and dizygotic twins who have, on average,
This review draws together findings half their genes in common). In the case of
from these traditions within an integrative twin studies, the assumption is that both kinds
framework that organizes the role of each in of twins share their environment (common
understanding mechanisms of socialization. It family experiences) to the same extent and
begins with a discussion of the genetic under- so an estimate of the heritability of the trait
pinnings of antisocial and prosocial behavior in (the proportion of individual differences in the
order to put the effects of parenting into their particular study population that is attributable
biopsychosocial perspective. It then moves to a to genetic variation) can be made on the basis
lengthier discussion of the impact of parenting of knowledge of the proportion of genes they
experiences on children’s socialization and an have in common. Similarity beyond this genetic
integration of various approaches to the study effect is attributed to the shared environment,
of socialization. This synthesis is followed by whereas differences between the types of twins
discussion of a number of variables that moder- not due to genetic differences are attributed to
ate the impact of parenting interventions. The the nonshared environment, such as differential
final section deals briefly with cultural research parental treatment or participation in different
and its implications for the universality of peer groups, and to measurement error.
parenting effects. From these calculations comes a heritability

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coefficient that reflects the extent to which a over, given that heritability coefficients reflect
behavior is genetically mediated, as well as an not only direct genetic effects but also interac-
estimate of the extent to which the behavior tions between genes and environment, it is ev-
reflects the influence of shared and nonshared ident that environmental influences that might
environmental events (Plomin et al. 2008). include the effects of parenting have to be sub-
The behavior-genetic approach has limita- stantial. A further important fact is that, un-
tions. For example, the assumption that the en- like most human behavioral traits, where shared
vironment shared by monozygotic twins is as environmental influences are minimal, those
similar as it is for dizygotic twins is tenuous: for aggressive behavior are substantial (Kendler
As just one example, dizygotic twins could dif- et al. 2003). This finding suggests that antisocial
fer genetically in characteristics that might elicit behavior is reflecting events that individuals ex-
differential parenting. Another limitation is that perience in common, such as similar parenting,
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heritability coefficients include the effects of rather than those they experience separately,
gene-by-environment interactions; that is, they such as association with different peer groups.
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

include cases in which the influence of environ- Of course, just because antisocial behavior
mental experiences is moderated by a genetic appears to be environmentally mediated does
characteristic. Accordingly, they overestimate not mean that differences in antisocial behav-
the role of genetic underpinnings. Finally, the ior are actually caused by differences in par-
nature of the sample under study affects the enting. Parenting behavior could be influenced
strength of the heritability coefficient: If en- by parents’ genotypes, and thus relations be-
vironmental variation is small for that sample, tween parenting actions (such as hostile and
then the amount of variance left to be assigned aggressive behavior) and child outcomes (such
to heritability becomes greater. In spite of as hostile and aggressive behavior) could actu-
these and other limitations (see Moffitt & Caspi ally reflect genetic similarities in the two in-
2007), one finding that clearly emerges from dividuals. And, indeed, there is evidence that
a large body of research is that although ge- maladaptive parenting is genetically mediated.
netic differences are important in understand- As well, there is evidence that antisocial chil-
ing children’s socio-emotional development, dren elicit maladaptive parenting. Thus, for ex-
socialization experiences are also crucially im- ample, adopted children who are at high risk
portant. Indeed, the work of geneticists makes it for behavior problems as determined by their
plainly evident that variations in experience are biological parents’ antisocial behavior receive
central to understanding human development. more discipline and control from their adop-
tive parents than those who are at low risk for
Behavior-genetic studies of antisocial behavior problems (e.g., Riggins-Caspers et al.
conduct. The most researched behavioral 2003). Nevertheless, when these confounds are
outcome has been one aspect of antisocial controlled, there is still evidence that parenting
behavior—aggression. Aggressive behavior has itself is responsible at least in part for children’s
been studied in a variety of family constella- antisocial behavior (Moffitt & Caspi 2007).
tions, with comparisons made not just for twins,
but also for full siblings, half siblings, step- Behavior genetics studies of prosocial
siblings, and unrelated children raised in the behavior. Behavior geneticists have also ad-
same family, with each design having its own dressed the heritability of prosocial behavior. In
set of advantages and limitations. Taken to- young children, environment contributes more
gether, however, more than 100 studies have to prosocial behavior than does heritability,
indicated that genetic processes, as summarized with heritability coefficients ranging from 0%
by the heritability coefficient, account for ap- to 40% (Knafo & Plomin 2006; Zahn-Waxler
proximately half the population variation in ag- et al. 1992, 2001). The importance of genetic
gressive behavior (Moffit & Caspi 2007). More- mediation increases with age, ranging from

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51% to 72% at age 7, and that of shared envi- actions between genes and the environment (in
ronment decreases as children spend less time in the present case, parenting), the fact that dif-
the family and more time seeking out environ- ferent genes associated with prosocial behavior
ments that support their genetic predispositions become activated at different points in time, and
(Knafo & Israel 2010, Knafo & Plomin 2006). the variety of actions subsumed under the labels
Genetic effects also become more important of antisocial and prosocial behavior.
because cognitive skills necessary for prosocial
behavior (for example, taking the perspective of
others) come into play, and these cognitive skills How Do Genes Relate to Behavior?
are genetically influenced. It should be noted Both structural and functional brain impair-
that, as with antisocial behavior, prosocial be- ments appear to be associated with antisocial
havior involves a great many separate acts, such behavior, particularly impairments in the
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as helping, comforting, and showing concern, prefrontal cortex (Bradshaw & Schore 2007,
and the strength of genetic effects differs as a Raine & Yang 2006). These impairments
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function of the particular aspect of prosocial be- could be the result of genetic factors, although
havior under investigation (Zahn-Waxler et al. they could also obviously be the outcome
1992). of experience, including experiences with
stress-inducing, harsh, or neglectful parenting.
Interestingly, different parts of the brain have
Molecular Genetics been linked to different behavioral features that
Scientists have now begun to identify specific are associated with antisocial action and failures
genes that are associated with antisocial and of prosocial action (Raine 2008). Impairment
prosocial behavior. The first to be identified was in the dorsolateral frontal cortex, for example,
monoamine oxidase A, which has been related is coupled with response perseveration, poor
to antisocial behavior (Caspi et al. 2002, Kim- planning, and deficits in theory of mind, events
Cohen et al. 2006), either directly or in interac- that in turn are linked to failure to inhibit
tion with features of parenting. Monoamine ox- punished behavior, social dysfunction, and
idase A codes for the enzyme that breaks down hostile attributions for the behavior of others.
serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is found at Impairment in the ventral-orbitofrontal cortex
reduced levels in antisocial individuals (Raine is associated with problems in decision making,
2008). Subsequently, several other genes (for emotional regulation, mediation of emotional
example, 5HTT, BDNF, and NOTCH4) have responses guiding behavior, and empathy.
been associated with or linked to antisocial These in turn are associated with, respectively,
behavior. In the case of prosocial behavior, bad life judgments, poor anger control, poor
genes that are associated with dopamine recep- behavioral control, and disregard for or indif-
tors have been linked to sharing in preschool ference to the needs of others. These sorts of
twins (DiLalla et al. 2009), with dopamine observations are helpful in understanding what
shown to relate to conscientiousness (Dragan & might be the important behavioral components
Oniszczenko 2007). In addition, genes linked that make up antisocial behavior and that merit
to oxytocin and arginine vasopressin hormones more specific and targeted investigation.
that are associated with a variety of social
traits such as affiliation and social bonding have
been implicated in children’s prosocial behav- Summary
ior (Knafo et al. 2008). Chakrabarti et al. (2009) Environmental events affect the linkages be-
report that 19 genes have been associated with tween genes, brain structures and function, hor-
adults’ self-reported empathy. The picture is monal activity, and behavior. They can also af-
even more complex when one considers the fect the way in which a gene’s DNA sequence
possibility of interactions among genes, inter- is actually expressed, that is, translated into

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neuronal structure and functioning and, ac- protection domain, parents and children partic-
cordingly, into behavioral outcomes. Thus we ipate in a caregiver-care recipient relationship,
see an intricate interplay between genes, expe- particularly as it has to do with the provision of
rience, and behavior. a safe environment for the child. The domain is
activated from birth, when the child is hurt, ill,
in physical danger, or emotionally upset. Under
SOCIALIZATION AND these conditions, successful parenting is parent-
PARENTING: A DOMAIN ing that provides a safe environment as well as
PERSPECTIVE appropriate help and emotional support for the
This review now moves to a discussion of the child’s distress. A great deal of research indi-
impact of specific parenting experiences on cates that children whose parents respond to
children’s socialization. Although develop- their distress by soothing, comforting, and re-
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mentalists know a great deal about parenting moving the source of that distress become se-
practices and their effects on children, their curely attached to their caregivers. In turn, this
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

approaches have been diverse and not well secure attachment predicts a variety of positive
integrated. An attempt at integration of that socialization outcomes. These include regula-
knowledge can be made by adopting a domain- tion of negative emotion, ability to cope with
specific approach to socialization (Bugental stress, empathic concern for the distress of oth-
2000, Bugental & Goodnow 1998, Bugental ers, and compliance with the requests of those
& Grusec 2006, Grusec & Davidov 2010). who are trusted to act in one’s best interests
This approach assumes that parent-child (Bretherton 1997, Eisenberg et al. 2006a).
interactions or relationships can be partitioned
into several domains and that the mechanisms Emotion regulation, coping with stress, and
that govern socialization in these domains as hormonal underpinnings. Young children
well as the child outcomes occurring in each who know that their signals will be effective
domain are different. Each type of relationship in attracting parental proximity and assistance
has an evolutionary underpinning, its own come to perceive distressing events as less
developmental course, and its own set of threatening, and these events are thus less
regulatory mechanisms. And, importantly, par- likely to trigger a physiological stress response
enting cannot be successful unless it is matched (Cassidy 2000). As well, because these children
to the domain in which the child is operating, have an outlet for negative affect in a supportive
that is, it responds to the child’s current needs. context, they are better able to self-regulate
Five domains [identified by Grusec & Davidov that negative affect. As a result, they can inhibit
(2010)] are protection, mutual reciprocity, negative emotions that might lead to antisocial
control, guided learning, and group partic- action or undermine prosocial action (Fabes
ipation. Each of these domains has its own et al. 2001). When caregivers are not respon-
history of investigation. As well, each domain sive, their children learn to minimize their
is activated under different conditions, involves signaling of distress, and when their caregivers
a different parent-child relationship, requires are inconsistently responsive, they learn to
different parenting responses, and is associated exaggerate it (Cassidy & Shaver 2008). These
with different socialization outcomes. These adaptations to a nonsupportive environment
domains are discussed in turn. are stressful and have been addressed in a body
of work on neurohormonal processes that
accompany such stress. Considerable research,
Protection both with animals and humans, has addressed
Evolution favors parents who protect their chil- the function of hormones, especially cortisol,
dren from danger, thereby increasing the likeli- in the development of response to distress.
hood of the parents’ reproductive success. In the Cortisol is associated with the hypothalamic

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PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

pituitary axis, which plays a central role in context of distress increase children’s ability to
reactions to threat; frequent and long-lasting read the emotions of others (Fabes et al. 2002).
elevations of cortisol have been demonstrated And when distressing events are not overly
to have negative consequences for physical and arousing, children can respond to the distress of
mental health, including emotion regulation. others in a positive and helpful way that would
One hypothesis is that stress early in life not be possible if they were overwhelmed by
leads to increased activation of the hypothala- that distress. In the latter case, they experience
mic pituitary axis system, but that over time, the personal distress that motivates escape from
system loses some of its resiliency or ability to the other’s difficulties (Eisenberg et al. 1998).
return to a normal baseline (Repetti et al. 2007). Limitations in the ability to feel empathy for
Thus individuals who have experienced stress in the plight of others also reduces the likelihood
the form of maternal separation and unrespon- that children will experience guilt or discomfort
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sive parenting, for example, are especially reac- when they cause harm to others (Fonagy et al.
tive to stressful events. As well, they are prone 1997).
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

to develop chronically elevated cortisol levels

over time with their concomitant negative out- Protective parenting and compliance. Fi-
comes. Although the evidence is mixed, a num- nally, securely attached children typically trust
ber of studies of human infants and children their parents to act fairly and in their best in-
clearly implicate changes in cortical responding terests. As a consequence, they are more likely
in reaction to early parenting problems. Ahnert to comply with parental directives (Bretherton
et al. (2004), for example, found that adjust- et al. 1997) and thus are likely to become bet-
ment to day care was accompanied by cortisol ter socialized, although the evidence is in fact
levels that were higher in insecure than in se- mixed with respect to this last observation. One
curely attached children. Wismer Fries et al. explanation for the inconsistent findings is that
(2008) assessed cortisol activation in children securely attached children may be more likely
who had been institutionalized early in life, to comply in settings involving their health and
and who had thus experienced atypical attach- well-being, such as being in a room with safety
ment events, but were then adopted into well- hazards (Londerville & Main 1981), and less
functioning family settings. In this way, the re- so when being asked to engage in non-safety-
searchers were able to look at the impact of related issues, such as cleaning up a playroom
early adversity without the confounding effects (van der Mark et al. 2002).
of continued environmental deprivation. They
found that the once-institutionalized children,
relative to controls, showed higher levels of cor- Mutual Reciprocity
tisol elevation after close contact with their par- Humans possess an inborn tendency to recip-
ent but no difference when interacting with a rocate the actions of others, an evolutionar-
strange adult. Wismer Fries et al. (2008) suggest ily adaptive strategy because it increases the
that these children had been previously exposed chances of survival and thereby provides repro-
to many caregivers, and so they found the tran- ductive benefits (Trevarthen et al. 1999). This
sition to one caregiver a particularly stressful inclination provides the basis for the domain of
event: Close contact after their disrupted early mutual reciprocity and appears early in infancy.
experience became a challenge rather than the In this domain, if parents respond positively to
source of feelings of security. a child’s reasonable demands and bids for atten-
tion, then, in turn, the child is likely to respond
Protective parenting and empathy. Empa- willingly to their requests for compliance, in-
thy for the distress of others is also facilitated cluding those having to do with the acceptance
by appropriately sensitive parenting. Discus- of societal norms. The relationship between
sions about emotions that can occur in the parent and child is one of equal partners.

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Although parental sensitivity is important score differently on measures of dyadic mutu-

in both the protection and mutual reciprocity ality with the same parent, although the link
domains, there are significant differences. The between lower levels of mutuality and higher
protection domain requires that socialization levels of child behavior problems appears to be
agents respond appropriately or sensitively to more than just an overlapping genetic influence
a child who is in distress. Outcomes are the on parent and child behavior (Deater-Deckard
ability to regulate negative affect, to feel em- & Petrill 2004). Dyadic mutuality is an impor-
pathy for the plight of others, and to comply tant feature of parent-child relationships but
with the wishes of a trusted person. The mu- does represent a movement away from or an
tual reciprocity domain requires that socializa- addition to the original conception of a parent
tion agents respond appropriately or sensitively responding to a child’s requests and bids for at-
to a child’s reasonable requests. Outcomes are tention. Its role in socialization remains to be
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a willingness on the part of the child to comply explored.

with the socialization agent’s directives. Fur-
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ther, the relationship in the latter domain is one

of equality, rather than one of care by a more Control
able individual of a less able one. This relation- In order to function in a harmonious way, hu-
ship of equality reflects attunement, responsiv- man groups have evolved to have definitions of
ity, and the sharing of common goals. and sanctions for deviance (Boehm 2000). It is
Play interactions and other rewarding ac- the need for such definitions and sanctions that
tivities are among the events that facilitate in- defines the control domain. Parents and chil-
teraction in the mutual reciprocity domain. dren do not always operate in an aura of mutual
Thus Parpal & Maccoby (1985) demonstrated reciprocity, and their goals are therefore not
that when mothers complied with their chil- always synonymous. This is particularly true as
dren’s reasonable demands during play, the children become mobile and develop a desire
children were subsequently more likely to com- for mastery of their environment. In the con-
ply with their mothers’ demands. Kochanska trol domain, parents use their greater power
(e.g., Kochanska 1997a) has shown that mu- and control over resources to modify actions
tual responsiveness and shared good times pre- that their children would not otherwise inhibit.
dict willing cooperation in the preschool and Here the relationship is a hierarchical one, with
toddler years as well as manifestations of con- parents, on average, having more resources to
science in later childhood. Similarly, Gardner dispense than their children. The challenge for
et al. (2003), in a longitudinal study, found that them is one of wielding power in such a way that
children whose mothers played with them in a they can effectively achieve compliance with so-
cooperative way, assessed at 3 years of age, had cietal norms without producing internalizing
fewer conduct problems at age 4 after control- problems, such as guilt and depression, or ex-
ling for earlier levels of conduct problems. ternalizing problems, such as anger.
Investigators studying reciprocity have It is in the control domain that most so-
broadened the original formulation to talk cialization research has been carried out and
about parent-child dyadic mutuality, op- that perspectives are most varied. Tradition-
erationalized as contingent and immediate ally, the outcome for children in the control
parental responsiveness to the child, child re- domain has been identified as the internaliza-
sponsiveness to the parent, discussion and car- tion of societal standards, that is, adherence to
rying out of cooperative acts, and behavioral these standards for internal reasons. The aim
and emotional reciprocity such as eye contact, is not for children to inhibit antisocial actions
matched affect, and organized turn-taking. This or display prosocial ones because they fear neg-
expanded focus has a genetic component: Un- ative consequences or hope for positive ones.
related siblings in the same family, for example, Rather, their behavior should be directed by

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 251

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

apparently self-generated principles of appro- seemed to affect the nature of the relation be-
priate conduct and by their own self-regulatory tween discipline techniques and internalization,
capacity. Preservation of the child’s sense of au- including child and parent sex; the child’s de-
tonomy and self-direction is considered essen- velopmental status, temperament, and mood;
tial in analyses of conscience development and the nature of the child’s misdemeanor; and
the acquisition of behavioral standards as well the quality of the relationship between parent
as other positive socio-emotional outcomes. and child [summarized in Rothbaum & Weisz
Maccoby (2007, pp. 36–37), in a review of the (1994) and Grusec & Goodnow (1994)]. Ac-
history of socialization research, puts the prob- cordingly, Grusec & Goodnow (1994) offered
lem succinctly: a new conceptualization, suggesting that inter-
nalization was a function of both the child’s ac-
The question underlying much modern par- curate perception of the parent’s message and
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enting research, then, is not whether parents the child’s acceptance of that message. The
should exercise authority and children should former was seen to be facilitated by variables
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

comply, but rather how parental control can such as the clarity of the message, the use of
best be exercised so as to support children’s power assertion to draw attention to the mes-
growing competence and self-management. sage, and assistance in focusing on general prin-
Thus it is increasingly understood that strong ciples rather than specific instances of unaccept-
parent agency and strong child agency are not able action. The latter—acceptance of the par-
incompatible. Both can be maintained within ent’s message—depended on levels of empathic
a system of mutually understood realms of le- arousal, which motivated the child to avoid dis-
gitimate authority, though this understanding tressing others; parental warmth, which made
must be progressively renegotiated as children the child eager to please the parent; and mini-
grow older. mal threats to the child’s autonomy.
In this analysis, then, attention shifted from
Forms of discipline, monitoring of chil- parental actions to the child’s perception of
dren’s activities, and styles of parenting are those actions and the parent’s understanding
the major topics that have been studied by re- of those perceptions (Grusec et al. 2000). In
searchers in this domain. Each is considered in keeping with this shift, Hastings & Grusec
turn. (1997) found that parents who were more ac-
curate in their knowledge of their adolescents’
Discipline. Early research led to a conclusion thoughts during conflict reported better out-
that discipline in the form of reasoning accom- comes. Mothers were more satisfied with the
panied by minimal amounts of punishment is outcome, and fathers reported fewer conflicts
the most effective way in which to produce overall, suggesting that parents used their accu-
conscience and internalized forms of conduct rate knowledge to achieve the particular goals
(Grusec & Goodnow 1994). Hoffman (1983), they had in conflict situations. More recently,
for example, proposed that mild punishment is Davidov & Grusec (2006a) assessed mothers’
necessary to gain the child’s attention so that knowledge of their children’s evaluations of the
the socialization message can be heard. Oth- effectiveness of different disciplinary interven-
ers (e.g., Lepper 1983) suggested that punish- tions. Children were then asked to clean up
ment that is just sufficient to gain compliance the room in which they had been playing, with
is more likely to be successful in promoting in- a number of children failing to comply with
ternalization in comparison with stronger levels this request. Mothers who were knowledgeable
of punishment because compliance in the for- about their children’s evaluations were better
mer case is more easily attributable to internal able to obtain compliance after this initial fail-
motivation. Empirical findings were not always ure than were those who were less knowledge-
consistent, however, and multiple moderators able. The relation between maternal accuracy

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and children’s ultimate compliance was medi- (2005) found in a parent-training program that
ated by mothers’ responsive reactions to their verbal criticism and harsh parenting (slapping,
children’s initial protests: They provided expla- spanking, hitting, and restraining), as reported
nations for the request, for example, rather than by mothers, both predicted and mediated
simply repeating it or walking away, suggesting children’s externalizing behavior. Specifically,
that they were better able to take into account the best outcomes in the program emerged for
their children’s perspective during conflict and children whose parents were relatively low on
to respond in a way they knew was likely to re- the use of these discipline techniques to begin
duce the conflict. with. However, among children who showed
An approach emphasizing parental knowl- improvement in their externalizing behavior,
edge and translation of that knowledge into that improvement was mediated by reductions
practice downplays specific discipline tech- in their parents’ use of harsh punishment.
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niques as a central concern for socialization. It In another longitudinal study that controlled
does not, however, do away with the fact that for children’s original level of antisocial
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some forms of discipline are more severe than behavior, Lansford et al. (2009) found that
others and may therefore be perceived more the children of parents who decreased their
negatively overall. One of the harsher forms, levels of mild physical punishment over time
physical or corporal punishment, continues to had the lowest levels of adolescent antisocial
attract attention from researchers because of its behavior.
salience and because of heated debates in the Opponents of physical punishment also ar-
public domain surrounding its use. gue that it is a way station to physical abuse
(Gershoff 2002). However, contrary evidence
The case of corporal punishment. Oppo- comes from Jaffee et al. (2004), who found that
nents of corporal punishment argue that it is shared genetic influences accounted for a large
a predictor of later antisocial behavior (e.g., portion of the relation between corporal pun-
Gershoff 2002). They suggest it provides a ishment and antisocial behavior, whereas child
model for resolving conflict through physical maltreatment did not appear to be genetically
means and provokes hostility and reactance in mediated. Jaffee et al. (2004) suggested that cor-
its recipients, which decreases the likelihood poral punishment and child maltreatment have
of compliance with parental wishes. Others see different origins, with corporal punishment in-
its occasional use in mild form, only between fluenced by child characteristics and child mal-
toddlerhood and puberty and in a context of treatment a function of family environment and
parental warmth, as a valuable tool in the arsenal characteristics of the abusing parent.
of parenting practices (Baumrind et al. 2002). Evidence is beginning to accumulate for the
There is considerable work linking corporal negative effects of even mild corporal punish-
punishment and antisocial behavior, although ment on the development of antisocial behav-
most of it is correlational in nature (Gershoff ior or externalizing problems. Comparison of
2002). For that reason, explanations other than the effects of corporal punishment with those
corporal punishment being a cause of antisocial of other harsh forms of power assertion, such
behavior are possible. Thus, difficult children as humiliation and derogation, are needed. The
may provoke anger in their parents that leads latter, for example, may be linked more to in-
to their harsh response. Or aggressive children ternalizing problems. If nothing else, all these
and aggressive parents may be that way because strategies provide less-than-positive models for
of their shared genes. Stronger evidence for a the resolution of conflict. One thing that is clear
causal relation comes from longitudinal studies from a reading of the literature is that any form
and from evaluations of parenting intervention of physical power assertion needs to be mild, in-
programs, and more of this kind of evidence is frequent, age appropriate, and used in the con-
being reported. For example, Beauchaine et al. text of a positive parent-child relationship.

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 253

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

Monitoring and disclosure. Monitoring, or Parenting styles and forms of control. The
knowing the whereabouts and activities of chil- identification and investigation of styles of par-
dren, has been identified as an important aspect enting have been a significant part of socializa-
of effective socialization and belongs at least in tion research. One approach has been to dis-
part in the control domain (Patterson 1997). It tinguish dimensions of parenting having to do
is conceptualized as close surveillance of chil- with warmth versus hostility and control ver-
dren by requesting information about their ac- sus autonomy (Maccoby & Martin 1983). An-
tivities, sharing activities with them, and talk- other approach has been to identify categories
ing to other people in the child’s surroundings, of parenting, and here the work of Baumrind
such as teachers and peers (Crouter & Head has been highly influential. Baumrind (1971)
2002). Presumably, parents who monitor their described two styles relevant for the control do-
children are better able to identify and mini- main. First is authoritarian control, character-
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mize negative influences, encourage prosocial ized by a failure to share decision-making power
behavior, and discourage antisocial behavior, with children, an assumption of parental infalli-
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

thereby exercising more effective control over bility, and becoming inaccessible or withdraw-
their children’s actions. Moreover, the research ing in response to the child’s deviation. Second,
does indicate that low levels of monitoring and and more successful as a socialization style, is
antisocial behavior are related (Crouter & Head authoritative control, which is marked by the
2002). The link between monitoring and reduc- requirement that children abide by parental di-
tions in antisocial behavior, not surprisingly, is rectives but in a context of parental sensitivity
bidirectional, with high levels of delinquent be- to the child’s needs and wishes, as well as by
havior leading to less monitoring as well as vice low levels of hostility. Recent modifications to
versa (Laird et al. 2003). Baumrind’s typology come from the work of
Monitoring as conceptualized above (close Barber (see also Steinberg 1990). Barber postu-
surveillance, questioning the child and oth- lated two forms of control—psychological and
ers, and engaging in mutual activities) has fre- behavioral. Psychological control involves at-
quently been operationalized simply as knowl- tempts to influence the child’s emotional state
edge of a child’s activities and whereabouts. and includes guilt induction, withdrawal of
Noting this, Stattin & Kerr (2000) suggested love, and parental intrusiveness. Psychologi-
that parental knowledge could come, in fact, cally controlling parents are manipulative and
from one of three sources: solicitation of infor- insensitive to the emotional needs of their chil-
mation, control over activities, and the child’s dren, and the children of such parents dis-
spontaneous disclosure of information to par- play internalizing problems that include anx-
ents. Moreover, they found in a study of iety, depression, and low self-esteem (Barber
Swedish families that disclosure was the pri- 2002). Behaviorally controlling parents mon-
mary source of parents’ knowledge as well as itor their children’s activities, set reasonable
the source of knowledge most closely linked to rules for their children to follow, and enforce
various measures of delinquency ranging from those rules in a way that is not autonomy threat-
norm breaking to police contact. However, this ening. Higher levels of behavioral control are
primacy of disclosure is not always the case. associated with fewer externalizing problems
For example, Waizenhoffer et al. (2004) found such as drug use, truancy, and antisocial be-
that parents who participated in their children’s havior (Barber 2002, Crouter & Head 2002).
activities and questioned knowledgeable others It should be noted that the outcomes of be-
also knew a great deal about their children’s ac- havioral and psychological control are not op-
tivities and friends. Whether or not disclosure is posite ends of a continuum: Behavioral con-
the primary source of parents’ knowledge, how- trol involves demands for social responsibility,
ever, it certainly is an important one. whereas psychological control is centered on

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the parent-child relationship and can result in resultant increasing importance of outside in-
the development of negative self-processes. fluences for older children.

Parenting styles and practices compared. Autonomy support, structure, and warmth:
How do these various forms of control com- a summary. Self-determination theory
pare in their effects? In a recent meta-analysis, (Grolnick 1997) offers a useful window for
Hoeve et al. (2009) addressed this question with drawing together the various ideas running
respect to delinquency. Overall, they found that through analyses of parenting in the control
parenting accounted for up to 11% of the vari- domain. Deci and his colleagues have proposed
ance in delinquency. The strongest links with that many behaviors are not intrinsically
delinquency were found for psychological and rewarding (such as, presumably, the inhibition
behavioral control and the weakest for author- of antisocial acts and the expression of at
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itative and authoritarian control. The strong least some forms of prosocial behavior). They
negative impact of psychological control on suggest there are three conditions that must
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children’s delinquency is contrary to some find- be in place to ensure that these behaviors
ings (see Barber 2002), but Hoeve et al. (2009) are fully internalized or fully integrated with
suggest it may be attributable to differences in all aspects of the self. The first is autonomy
the severity of delinquent acts assessed, with support by the parent, marked by gentle,
other studies assessing less serious antisocial nonintrusive control and the provision of
acts. Another powerful predictor was parental appropriate choice, which facilitates feelings
lack of support in the form of neglect, hos- that the behavior is self-generated rather than
tility, and rejection. There was also a strong externally imposed. The second is parental
impact of parental monitoring in its various provision of structure or the setting of clear
forms, either in the form of parental knowl- expectations so that children understand what
edge of the child’s whereabouts, active tracking is expected of them. The final condition is
of the child’s whereabouts, or child disclosure. interpersonal involvement including warmth
Interestingly, small effect sizes were found for and caring and a demonstrated interest in the
corporal punishment and for open communi- child, all of which make children willing to ac-
cation, a feature of parenting that was generally cept structure. There is considerable evidence
grouped with trust, acceptance, love, caring, for these three conditions. The importance
and warmth. The finding with respect to com- of structure and interpersonal involvement is
munication suggests that warmth and openness certainly demonstrated in much of the research
by themselves are not sufficient to discourage on parenting strategies and styles reviewed
delinquent behavior: Warm and communica- above. An explicit example of the positive con-
tive parenting needs to be accompanied by some sequences of autonomy support comes from
form of power assertion or control. a recent study by Roth and colleagues (2009)
Hoeve et al. (2009) noted that the links be- that involved 14- to 15-year-olds. Roth et al.
tween parenting and delinquency were stronger compared parental use of social reinforcement
when parent-child pairs of the same sex were (conditional positive regard), social disapproval
considered, presumably a reflection of chil- (conditional negative regard), and autonomy
dren’s propensity to identify with the same-sex support, which they operationalized as taking
parent. In addition, poor paternal support was the child’s perspective and providing rationales
more strongly linked to delinquency than poor for appropriate behavior. The latter technique
maternal support. Relations were also stronger predicted adolescents’ greater feelings of
for school-age children and early adolescents choice, better regulation of negative emotions,
relative to middle and late adolescents, a not and more interest in academic matters. The
surprising finding given the widening world and findings of Roth et al. (2009) emphasize, then,

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 255

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

the limitations of rewards and punishments the use of external incentives, and in some cases
in the control domain and the importance of this may be enough.
promoting children’s feelings that they have
options, that they are understood, and that
they are being subjected to minimal pressure. Guided Learning
The challenge, of course, is to identify Human beings are less physically strong than
what an individual child sees as autonomy many other species and so they have evolved
supportive. What is intrusive and autonomy intellectual skills that aid their survival but
threatening depends, among other things, that require teaching and training. Their pro-
on the child’s developmental status and sex. tracted period of dependency provides time
As children move into adolescence, the areas for them to acquire information from their
over which they see parents having the right caregivers, and their capacity for language en-
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to exert control decrease (Smetana 1988). ables those caregivers to teach highly complex
Differences between boys and girls in how ideas and skills through verbal communication
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they react to parental authority increase during (Gauvain & Perez 2007). In the domain of
puberty and are correlated with increasing guided learning, the parent-child relationship
levels of testosterone in boys (e.g., Panksepp is one of teacher and student. The task being
1993). Other variables such as temperament, taught must be within the child’s zone of prox-
attachment status, and the cultural context imal development, able to be mastered with
in which parenting takes place also affect the the aid of a more experienced other (Vygotsky
meaning assigned to parental control (Bugental 1978). Learning must be supported or scaf-
& Grusec 2006). Once again, we return to the folded by adjustments to the child’s changing
importance of the child’s construal of parental skill level and understanding, with teacher in-
socialization practices as a centrally important volvement gradually reduced as the child be-
feature of the socialization process. comes more expert (Wood et al. 1976).
A final note with respect to autonomy sup- Research in the area of guided learning typ-
port and internalization is in order. Not all de- ically has addressed the acquisition of cognitive
velopmentalists consider internalization the ul- abilities (Gauvain & Perez 2007). But there are
timate goal of socialization. Patterson (1997), also demonstrations of its place in the acqui-
for example, has demonstrated convincingly sition of social and emotional skills. Children
that reinforcement contingencies can be im- of parents who coach them about the nature
portant in the development and the inhibition of emotions, their appropriate expression, and
of antisocial action. However, three observa- strategies for managing them, exhibit greater
tions should be made. The first is that the ma- physiological adaptation to as well as behav-
nipulation of contingencies may be particularly ioral regulation of emotions (Gottman et al.
effective with younger children, who are less 1996). Children of mothers who talk about
likely to see such manipulations as threats to emotion-laden past events and who provide de-
their autonomy. Second is the suggestion that tail, structure, and feedback show a more ad-
behavior controlled by external contingencies vanced understanding of emotions (Laible &
simply becomes habitual as a result of repetition Panfile 2009). Parents give advice to and coach
(Patterson & Fisher 2002) and therefore less af- their young children in social skills, and these
fected by feelings of loss of control. The third is practices seem to be especially important in ini-
that internalization is not the only goal that par- tial encounters with peers (Mize & Pettit 1997)
ents endorse: They may wish simply for obedi- and predict fewer behavior problems in middle
ence, or they may aim to realize an outcome that childhood and early adolescence (Pettit et al.
is mutually satisfactory for their children and 1997). Parents also provide guidance to older
themselves (Hastings & Grusec 1998). Obedi- children and adolescents in ways of dealing with
ence and compliance can be achieved through problematic social situations (Ladd & Pettit

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2002). Additionally, it has been noted that com- Group Identification

mon practices of moral and character education
Children want to be part of social groups: From
have many elements of scaffolding (Turner &
a very young age, they know the “proper” way
Berkowitz 2005).
of doing things (Dunn & Munn 1985), and
Research on discipline and control strate-
they become distressed when they see an adult
gies has implicated parental reasoning as an
normative standard violated (Kagan 1982).
important element for successful internaliza-
Evolutionary theorists suggest that children are
tion. One way of conceptualizing the various
biologically predisposed to adopt the customs,
research findings may be that when parents rea-
standards, and rules of the group. Brewer &
son appropriately, that is, in a way that is within
Gardner (1996), for example, propose that
the child’s zone of proximal development and is
individuals have to rely on a wider group for
adjusted and responsive to the child’s changing
assistance and resources that includes nonkin,
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skill level, they move out of the control domain

but that help giving must not be indiscriminate.
into the guided learning domain. Thus, reason-
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Thus it becomes important to delineate the in-

ing, a warm and affectionate parent-child rela-
from the out-group and to adopt symbols and
tionship, and power assertion work together:
behaviors that differentiate the two. Moreover,
Reasoning provides an understanding of rules
as the group grows larger and more depersonal-
and standards that promote their internaliza-
ized, rules and customs come to be seen as bet-
tion, modest amounts of power assertion pro-
ter, not just different. In this domain, parents,
vide the motivation that focuses children’s at-
as part of the socialization process, engage chil-
tention and encourages them to listen and to
dren in rituals and routines, model appropriate
engage in the learning process, and warmth
behavior, and manage their children’s environ-
promotes acceptance of the parental message.
ment so that they are exposed to appropriate
When reasoning is within the child’s zone of
influences. The relationship in the group-
proximal development, it should facilitate the
identification domain is that of two members
internalization of societal values both because it
who belong to the same social group, with one
allows teacher and student to arrive at a shared
helping the other to identify what their shared
understanding of the task and because scaffold-
social identity entails. In this domain, children
ing is nonintrusive and supports the child’s au-
learn socially conventional ways of acting.
tonomous action.
Bandura (e.g., Bandura 1977) has provided a
Children’s disclosure of information to their
wealth of research evidence for the importance
parents is another aspect of the socialization
of learning through observation of other group
process that may be usefully linked to the
members, arguing that observational learning
guided learning domain. Presumably, disclo-
is both the primary as well as the most efficient
sure sets the stage for some amount of guided
way in which novel responses are acquired.
learning. One question, then, has to do with the
More information about group participation
conditions under which disclosure can be en-
comes from anthropologists who have de-
couraged, thereby providing opportunities for
scribed how younger members of the social
guided learning. There has been considerable
group observe older ones performing activities
interest in this issue, with attention centered
that are valued by the group, keenly observing
on parenting characteristics. Findings indicate
them in anticipation of performing those activ-
that greater parental warmth, responsiveness,
ities themselves at a later point in time (Rogoff
acceptance, and trust are associated with greater
et al. 2003). Although learning through intent
disclosure (Smetana 2008). What this work in-
to participate is seen more frequently in cultural
dicates is that events in the domain of guided
communities where children are involved in
learning may be facilitated by warmth and sup-
adult activities on a regular daily basis, it also is
port from parents who make it easier for their
an important socialization mechanism in those
children to talk to them.

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 257

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

communities where children are segregated does not threaten the child’s autonomy, and the
in formal school settings. And finally, those result is self-regulation. The guided learning
who study rituals and routines have noted domain calls for teaching in the child’s zone
that more psychosocially mature adolescents of proximal development, with an outcome of
feel more closely connected to family rituals internalized standards of behavior. Finally, the
(Eaker & Walters 2002) and that there is less group participation domain involves provision
conflict between fathers and adolescents in of models and opportunity for ritual and
families where the members spend more routine, with the end result of engagement in
time eating together, watching television, and socially conventional action.
sharing activities and places visited (Dubas &
Gerris 2002). Additionally, Grusec et al. (1996)
found that the performance of household Evidence for the Specificity
of Domains
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work that benefited others and was done on a

routine basis predicted children’s spontaneous There is mounting evidence that socialization
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

prosocial behavior, whereas work done for the interventions are situation-specific in their re-
self or only when requested did not. sults, predicting outcomes that are in the same
In the group participation domain, chil- domain but not outcomes that are in a different
dren learn about a variety of socially acceptable domain. Some examples are provided here, with
actions that reflect general practices of their a more extensive review provided in Grusec &
group. These practices are strongly entrenched Davidov (2010). In each of these cases, a par-
because they are unquestioned and unexamined enting action that is appropriate to the domain
and therefore difficult to alter (Bourdieu 1977). yields significant results. Parenting actions that
When questioned, however, they may be eas- would be appropriate to another domain do not.
ily abandoned. In this sense, the group partic- In the protection domain, sensitivity to
ipation domain does not seem the best candi- distress in infancy, but not exchange of affect
date for the internalization of societal values, or interactions involving physical objects,
although it is clearly a powerful venue for the predicts attachment security (Del Carmen
learning of social customs and conventions. et al. 1993). Sensitivity to distress in in-
fancy also predicts fewer behavior problems
and greater social competence in toddler-
Summary of Domains hood, as well as better affect regulation in
In summary, each of the socialization domains highly reactive toddlers, whereas sensitivity
described in this review calls on a different form to nondistressing events (e.g., prompt re-
of parent-child relationship: caregiver/care sponses to a child’s social gestures) does not
recipient, equal partners in exchange, con- (Leerkes et al. 2009). Responsiveness to
troller/controllee, teacher/student, and joint distress is related to self-regulation of negative
members of the social group. As well, the affect, empathy, and prosocial behavior in
following distinctions have been proposed young children, but warmth is not (Davidov &
among the different domains. The protection Grusec 2006b), and maternal responsiveness
domain requires sensitive responding to a during a stressful task predicts ability to delay
child in distress, and outcomes are the ability gratification three years later, whereas respon-
to regulate negative affect, be empathic, and siveness during an emotionally undemanding
comply with the wishes of a trusted other. task does not (Rodriguez et al. 2005). In
The mutual reciprocity domain requires the reciprocity domain, Parpal & Maccoby
appropriate responding to a child’s reasonable (1985) found that children whose mothers had
requests, and the outcome is reciprocal or been trained to allow them to take the lead
willing compliance. The control domain entails during play were subsequently more compliant
responding to a child’s misdeeds in a way that but that warmth did not contribute to that

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compliance. In the control domain, gentle acquired in one domain may facilitate behav-
discipline is associated with fewer behavioral ior in another as, for example, when guided
problems and greater awareness of the impact learning helps emotion regulation, which in
of one’s actions on others, whereas warmth turn reduces frustration when a child’s wishes
and parental involvement in peer contacts are are blocked. Nevertheless, trying to understand
not (Pettit et al. 1997). In the guided learning how parenting functions in each domain ap-
domain, elaborate discourse during conversa- pears essential to understanding mechanisms of
tions about emotion-laden topics is associated socialization as well as offering guidance for the
with children’s resistance to temptation and most effective ways of helping children become
emotion understanding, whereas attachment cooperative members of the group.
status and shared affect during interaction are
not (Laible 2004, Laible & Song 2006). And
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in the group participation domain, adolescents

who perform household work that benefits INTERVENTIONS
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other family members (e.g., setting the table A central theme in contemporary analyses of so-
and feeding the dog) are more spontaneously cialization, and one discussed throughout this
considerate of others, whereas work done for review, is that the same parenting action takes
the self or in response to a request from others on different meaning for different children, and
does not predict spontaneous concern (Grusec, it is these meanings that determine the impact
et al. 1996). Also, in a review of the literature of the action and its reflection in children’s be-
on modeling, Hoffman (1970) concluded that havior. As previously noted, a number of factors
whereas observation of a deviant model had a operate as moderators of the relation between
disinhibiting effect on observers, observation parenting interventions and socialization out-
of deviant models who were punished did not comes. Age is an obvious one: The need for pro-
promote inhibition of antisocial actions. tection and the form it takes, the acceptance of
These and other similar findings, then, sup- authority, and the complexity of tasks that can
port the argument that good parenting involves be mastered all change as children grow older
many different aspects and that these aspects and become cognitively, emotionally, and be-
target different outcomes. Such distinctions are haviorally more sophisticated. Sex is another
not always made by researchers, and it seems moderator, with differences mediated by dif-
that research results would be clearer were that ferent experiences and different physiological
to be the case. characteristics.

Domains in Combination Temperament and Parenting

Although a domain analysis treats domains as Interactions
separately functioning entities, and the evi- Another moderator that has received consider-
dence suggests they can be successfully dis- able recent attention is children’s temperament.
tinguished, it is true that they can operate in Temperament refers to biologically based, early
close conjunction. For example, a given parent- appearing, and relatively stable differences in
child interaction might involve two domains, as response to emotionally salient stimuli and in
when a parent employs power assertion in the self-regulation of those responses. There is ev-
control domain to gain a child’s attention and idence that temperament and parenting both
guided learning to impart information, or com- contribute separately to child outcomes. But
forting in the protection domain and modeling there is also a great deal of evidence that tem-
of comforting in the group participation do- perament and parenting interact in their effects
main. Not infrequently, interactions can move on children’s social behavior (Rothbart & Bates
quickly from one domain to another. And skills 2006).

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PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

In a recent survey of the relevant literature, encourage the development of self-regulatory

Bates & Pettit (2007) summarized findings with abilities in these emotionally reactive children.
respect to three aspects of temperament. These Finally, with respect to self-regulation, Bates
were (a) fearfulness or inhibition, that is, ini- & Pettit (2007) indicate that children with
tial withdrawal and slow adaptation to novel or lower levels of self-regulation or effortful con-
possibly risky situations; (b) negative emotional- trol are more likely to develop antisocial behav-
ity or difficult temperament, that is, irritability ior when the parenting they receive is hostile
and negative reactions to somatic discomfort, and cold than are children who are high in ef-
overstimulation, and frustration; and (c) self- fortful control (e.g., Morris et al. 2002). Again,
regulation, that is, lack of impulsivity, unman- there is some suggestion, however, that certain
ageability, and resistance to control as well as forms of benign restrictive parenting could pro-
high levels of effortful control. The studies they mote better outcomes (e.g., Bates et al. 1998).
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surveyed generally appeared to involve parent-

ing in the control domain, with too few studies
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in other domains to draw any overall conclu- Temperament-by-Parenting

sions. But in the control domain, although pat- Interactions: Further Complexities
terns are suggestive only, it appears that fearful Research in the area of temperament-by-
children who receive harsh discipline are less parenting interactions has been guided by a
likely to have high levels of conscience develop- transactional/dual-risk model (Sameroff 1983),
ment, whereas conscience development is un- which proposes that vulnerable individuals are
related to harshness of discipline in less-fearful more likely than those who are less vulnerable
children (e.g., Kochanska 1997b); one explana- to be affected by maladaptive parenting. By
tion is that fearful children become too anx- and large, the summary above supports this
ious to cognitively process discipline informa- position. Recently, however, Belsky & Pluess
tion in an effective way. There is also evidence (2009) have drawn attention to a further
that fearful children, but not less-fearful ones, complexity. They suggested that whereas
have fewer internalizing problems when they vulnerable individuals may be particularly neg-
are exposed to more directive and challenging atively affected by problematic parenting, they
family environments (Tschann et al. 1996). also may be particularly positively affected by
Again, the evidence is limited but seems to nonproblematic parenting and the absence of
suggest that the second temperament feature, adversity (see also Boyce & Ellis 2005). Belsky
negative emotionality, increases the impact of & Pluess (2009) cited a number of studies
hostile and insensitive parenting on the de- that highlight the dual outcomes of difficult
velopment of externalizing problems, whereas temperament. As just two examples, van Aken
children who do not have a difficult tempera- et al. (2007) found that 16- to 19-month-old
ment are not as affected by such parenting (e.g., boys with difficult temperament showed,
Morris et al. 2002, Stice & Gonzles 1998, Wills relative to those with easy temperament, the
et al. 2001). One suggestion is that irritable chil- smallest increases in externalizing problems six
dren more easily engage in coercive interactions months later when their mothers infrequently
with ineffectually controlling parents and that used negative control and the largest increases
this results in continuing problems with anti- when their mothers were frequently negatively
social behavior. Another pattern that emerges controlling. And, in study of older children,
is that parenting that is highly controlling but Lengua (2008) found that those who were
not too negative is linked to fewer internaliz- prone to negative emotion (frustration), rela-
ing problems for children who display negative tive to those who were not, showed increases
emotionality but not for children who do not over the course of a year in internalizing and
have a difficult temperament (Arcus 2001). Ar- externalizing problems when their mothers
cus suggests that mild frustration and challenge were rejecting and inconsistent in discipline

260 Grusec
PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

but decreases when their mothers showed little example, in Western industrialized nations,
rejection. Belsky & Pluess (2009) also cite a parents characteristically exercise consider-
number of studies using genetic markers of able direct control over their young children,
susceptibility that are associated with neural whereas in Japan, parents avoid confrontation
transmitters and that yield similar patterns of and often back down when children resist their
findings. Much remains to be learned about requests (Rothbaum et al. 2000).
these temperament- and gene-by-parenting
interactions, including the mechanisms under-
lying them, whether particular children are The Effect of Cultural Values
malleable in all socialization domains or just on Socialization Practices
some, and the extent to which malleability is Cultures have been categorized as either indi-
environmentally or genetically mediated. But vidualist (Western industrialized) or collectivist
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they once again demonstrate the complex in- (most of the rest of the world), with the former
terplay between biological predispositions and valuing independence, autonomy, equality
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social experiences and how the same event can with parents, and self-assertion, and the latter
have a different meaning for a given individual. valuing lifelong obligation to family, family
harmony, restrained emotional expression,
THE ROLE OF CULTURE and, in some cases, deference for authority
(see Oyserman et al. 2002 for a review and
Most of the research described to this point has
assessment). Although this dichotomy has
been conducted with North American or West-
been the object of considerable criticism, given
ern European samples. But questions arise with
considerable variability within each so-called
respect to the generalization of results to other
cultural group, it is a very rough distinction that
cultures. Are domains of socialization univer-
does help to organize some empirical findings
sal? How do different cultural goals and values
(Oyserman et al. 2002). Two examples follow.
affect socialization practices? Do various par-
European American parents are more likely
enting practices have the same impact in differ-
to exhibit authoritative parenting, which em-
ent cultural contexts? Are some practices harm-
phasizes the development of separation and
ful regardless of the cultural context in which
autonomy within a supportive relationship,
they occur? Each question is addressed in turn.
whereas Asian, Asian American, Latino, and
African American parents are more likely to be
The Universality of Domains authoritarian in their parenting, with greater
The domain analysis of socialization presented emphasis on obedience and conformity (Chao
here as well as by Bugental (2000) assumes & Tseng 2002, Steinberg et al. 1991). And
that domains are universal, given that they have American children are encouraged to discuss
evolved to solve problems that occurred in the their own feelings and those of others as a way
human environment of evolutionary adapted- of learning about emotions and emotion regu-
ness. There may well be differences between lation, whereas Chinese and Japanese children
cultures, however, in the extent to which a are socialized to be attuned to the feelings of
given domain is engaged in the socialization others but to show restraint in the expression of
process. Guided learning, for example, appears their own feelings as a way of achieving group
more frequently in cultures that rely on formal harmony (Rothbaum et al. 2000).
schooling. Where children are not segregated
in a school setting, group participation is more
frequent, with children observing adult ways Effects of Same Practices
as they prepare to become mature members in Different Cultures
of the community (Rogoff et al. 2007). There Differences between cultures have been
are also differences in the control domain. For most studied in the control domain, where

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 261

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

authoritarian parenting has generally predicted them to evaluate existing social practices. Adop-
antisocial behavior in individualists but not in tion of choices made by others who are trusted
collectivists (Bugental & Grusec 2006). The enhances intrinsic motivation for Asian Ameri-
difference in impact may result from the fact cans but not for European Americans (Iyenger
that authoritarian parenting, at least in China, & Lepper 1999), a finding that also points to the
involves “guan” or training that emphasizes the possibility of feelings of freedom of choice even
importance of obedience and self-discipline in contexts where agreement with others is im-
(Chao & Tseng 2002). Accordingly, author- portant. Another related question has to do with
itarian parenting in this context has a more the role of conflict between parent and child and
benign meaning than in an individualist its importance as a way of developing indepen-
context, where it is more likely to be associated dence from parental control. Here again, col-
with parents’ anger and rejection (Rudy & lectivist rearing does not appear to be problem-
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Grusec 2006). Indeed, when authoritarian atic. Conflict does occur in collectivist cultures,
parenting includes coerciveness and rejection and it is seen at least by Chinese adolescents
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or overprotection, it predicts conduct problems as a way of exercising or maintaining personal

even in collectivist groups (Herz & Gullone jurisdiction, just as it is by Western European
1999). These sorts of findings again reinforce adolescents (e.g., Yau & Smetana 1996).
the importance of the meaning of a parent’s Autonomy within a context of interdepen-
actions to the child. If those actions are seen as dence thus seems possible. In a parallel man-
caring, then they are less likely to have negative ner, the Western European emphasis on au-
consequences. In the same vein, if those actions tonomy and separation does not downplay the
are seen as normative, they should have fewer importance of interpersonal relationships. In-
negative consequences. Evidence for this latter deed, Rothbaum & Trommsdorff (2007) pro-
assertion comes from a study of families in posed that relatedness is a centrally important
Thailand, China, the Philippines, Italy, India, feature of functioning in all cultural environ-
and Kenya, where mothers and children rated ments. Trust or faith in the good intentions of
the frequency of usage of corporal punishment others allows the seeking of spontaneous rela-
by other parents (Lansford et al. 2005). The in- tionships with new partners in cultures that em-
vestigators found that corporal punishment was phasize autonomy and self-esteem. Assurance
less strongly associated with children’s behavior or guarantee of loyalty and reciprocity from
problems in countries where it was perceived members of an interdependent group promotes
to have greater normativeness. However, they group cohesion and family security. One ap-
also found evidence of harmful effects, with in- proach is no less adaptive than the other, just
creased aggression and anxiety associated with as one approach to autonomy appears to be no
the use of physical discipline in all countries. more or less adaptive than another.

Universally Harmful Practices CONCLUSION

Questions here revolve around the apparent Human society does not function well in the
sacrifice of autonomous development in absence of a sense of moral purpose and a
cultures where family harmony and interde- cooperative stance toward others. And the first
pendence are heavily emphasized. However, it and most important place in which these are ac-
has been argued that individuals in collectivist quired is in the family. This review has touched
cultures can perceive their behavior as willingly on aspects of the process by which civilized
enacted (Turiel 1998). Helwig et al. (2003) behavior is encouraged in young children. The
note that Chinese children articulate concepts evidence indicates that good parenting is not
of rights, individual autonomy, and democratic associated with specific actions per se. Rather,
norms in their social reasoning and also use it is associated with the way in which those

262 Grusec
PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

actions are perceived by their recipient, with behavior as well as ritual and routine—and they
these perceptions depending on a variety of need exposure to positive models. Finally, they
characteristics of children and of the situation need to understand why certain demands are
in which parent and child find themselves. The being made of them and the reasons for those
evidence also indicates that socialization occurs demands.
under a variety of conditions and that appro- Research on socialization has a long history
priate parenting depends on the particular in psychology, a reflection of the singular im-
condition that is currently operational. portance of raising children to be fully func-
A variety of factors are implicated in order tioning and contributing members of society.
for children to assign a positive meaning to so- Accordingly, developmental psychologists have
cialization efforts and to comply with them. gained considerable understanding of how chil-
Children need to feel that their parents are dren can be reared to have a sense of moral
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warm, accepting, understand them, are respon- purpose. This is a particularly reassuring ob-
sive to their needs and requests, have their best servation if the quote at the beginning of this
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2011.62:243-269. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org

interests in mind, and are not hostile or intru- review is accurate and the world is at best tread-
sive. These feelings are crucial for the meaning ing water with respect to morals and society.
they assign to parental practices. Children need Knowledge exists that can be applied to the
structure—including clear rules for appropriate problem.

1. Parenting is the major context in which socialization takes place.
2. Socialization is a bidirectional process, with children selective in what they take in. The
impact of parenting interventions depends on the interpretation of or the meaning chil-
dren assign to those interventions.
3. Evolution affects the predisposition of a particular species to respond to particular envi-
ronmental events, and genes are responsible for individual differences within a species.
Behavior genetics studies indicate that prosocial and antisocial behaviors are both ge-
netically and environmentally mediated. Molecular genetics studies indicate that many
genes are associated with the different forms of antisocial and prosocial action.
4. Socialization occurs in different domains depending on the nature of the currently ac-
tivated relationship between parent and child. Each domain has its own mechanism of
operation and is associated with a different set of child outcomes.
5. Many of the relations between parenting and child outcomes are moderated by variables
such as temperament. Although a frequent finding is that ineffective parenting (e.g., harsh,
inconsistent) has its strongest impact on children with difficult temperament, there is also
evidence that children with difficult or problematic temperaments are also particularly
responsive to positive parenting.
6. There are some universally harmful parenting practices, which include harsh punishment,
lack of psychological support, and threatening of children’s sense of autonomy.
7. In order to be effectively socialized, children must feel that their parents care for them,
are accommodating, understand them, and have their best interests at heart. Children
must have structure in the form of clear rules for behavior and routine, and they must
feel that their behavior is self-directed.

www.annualreviews.org • Socialization Processes in the Family 263

PS62CH10-Grusec ARI 11 November 2010 12:36

The author is not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that might
be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review.

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The Development of Problem Solving in Young Children:

A Critical Cognitive Skill
Rachel Keen p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 1
Decision Making
The Neuroscience of Social Decision-Making
James K. Rilling and Alan G. Sanfey p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p23
Speech Perception
Speech Perception
Arthur G. Samuel p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p49
Attention and Performance
A Taxonomy of External and Internal Attention
Marvin M. Chun, Julie D. Golomb, and Nicholas B. Turk-Browne p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p73
Language Processing
The Neural Bases of Social Cognition and Story Comprehension
Raymond A. Mar p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 103
Reasoning and Problem Solving
Causal Learning and Inference as a Rational Process:
The New Synthesis
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Emotional, Social, and Personality Development
Development in the Early Years: Socialization, Motor Development,
and Consciousness
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Peer Contagion in Child and Adolescent Social
and Emotional Development
Thomas J. Dishion and Jessica M. Tipsord p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 189

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Adulthood and Aging

Psychological Wisdom Research: Commonalities and Differences in a
Growing Field
Ursula M. Staudinger and Judith Glück p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 215
Development in the Family
Socialization Processes in the Family: Social and
Emotional Development
Joan E. Grusec p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 243
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Delusional Belief
Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon, and Ryan McKay p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 271
Therapy for Specific Problems
Long-Term Impact of Prevention Programs to Promote Effective
Parenting: Lasting Effects but Uncertain Processes
Irwin N. Sandler, Erin N. Schoenfelder, Sharlene A. Wolchik,
and David P. MacKinnon p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 299
Self and Identity
Do Conscious Thoughts Cause Behavior?
Roy F. Baumeister, E.J. Masicampo, and Kathleen D. Vohs p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 331
Neuroscience of Self and Self-Regulation
Todd F. Heatherton p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 363
Attitude Change and Persuasion
Attitudes and Attitude Change
Gerd Bohner and Nina Dickel p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 391
Cross-Country or Regional Comparisons
Culture, Mind, and the Brain: Current Evidence and Future Directions
Shinobu Kitayama and Ayse K. Uskul p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 419
Cognition in Organizations
Heuristic Decision Making
Gerd Gigerenzer and Wolfgang Gaissmaier p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 451
Structures and Goals of Educational Settings
Early Care, Education, and Child Development
Deborah A. Phillips and Amy E. Lowenstein p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 483

Contents vii
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Psychophysiological Disorders and Psychological Dimensions

on Medical Disorders
Psychological Perspectives on Pathways Linking Socioeconomic Status
and Physical Health
Karen A. Matthews and Linda C. Gallo p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 501
Psychological Science on Pregnancy: Stress Processes, Biopsychosocial
Models, and Emerging Research Issues
Christine Dunkel Schetter p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 531
Research Methodology
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The Development of Autobiographical Memory

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The Disaggregation of Within-Person and Between-Person Effects in
Longitudinal Models of Change
Patrick J. Curran and Daniel J. Bauer p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 583
Thirty Years and Counting: Finding Meaning in the N400
Component of the Event-Related Brain Potential (ERP)
Marta Kutas and Kara D. Federmeier p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p 621


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viii Contents