Parenting styles and the development of the categorical self: A longitudinal study on mirror self-recognition in Cameroonian Nso and German families
This prospective study contributes to the understanding of the development of self-conceptions in cultural context. We examined the influence of maternal contingent responsiveness towards their 3-month-old infants on toddlers’ self-recognition at the age of 18 to 20 months. We contrasted two samples that can be expected to differ with respect to contingent responsiveness as a parenting style: German middle-class families and Cameroonian Nso farmers. As hypothesized, German mothers reacted more contingently than Nso mothers. Furthermore, German toddlers recognized themselves more often than Nso toddlers. Finally, we found that the level of contingent responsiveness was one of the mechanisms that accounted for mirror self-recognition. The results are discussed with respect to different cultural emphases on parenting strategies.