The behaviour of babies depend largely on the surroundings, especially the place of birth, according to a study.
Infants from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts. Babies born in big cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers, as per the study by Washington State University psychologist Maria Gartstein and WSU graduate student Alyssa Neumann.
The researchers found urban moms tend to be better at picking up on when their babies wanted or needed something, or were ready to be done with play, and responding accordingly. This in turn could have led to their infants generally being calmer and less easily upset.
Rural moms reported more frequent expressions of negative emotions from their infants, particularly when they were distressed due to limitations.
“I was shocked, quite frankly, at how little there was in the literature on the effects of raising an infant in a rural vs. urban environment,” Gartstein said. “The fact that rural mothers in our study reported more frequent expressions of anger and frustration from their infants may be consequential as higher levels of frustration in infancy can increase risk for later attentional, emotional, social and behavioural problems.”
The first study consisted of 68 participants and their infants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the second consisted of 120 rural mothers and their infants from Whitman and Latah counties in the Inland Northwest of the United States.
Gartstein said one of the more surprising findings from the study was that contrary to predictions, her team found no statistically significant differences in levels of parenting stress between urban and rural caregivers.