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Journal Article

The emergent practice of infant compliance: An exploration in two cultures

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Reddy, V., Liebal, K., Hicks, K., Jonnalagadda, S., & Chintalapuri, B. (2013). The emergent practice of infant compliance: An exploration in two cultures. Developmental Psychology, 49(9), 1754-1762. doi:10.1037/a0030979.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-54BC-8
Complying with directives is an important indicator of developing cooperativeness and of the awareness of others’ intentions for one’s own actions. Nonetheless, little is known about the early emergence of compliance. In the present longitudinal study, we explore this phenomenon in naturalistic settings in two cultural groups. Nine middle-class urban families in the United Kingdom and 13 middle-class urban families in India were videotaped at home when their infants were 6.5, 8.0, 9.5, 11.0, and 12.5 months of age. Parents issued directives even when infants were 6.5 months; the number of directives increased with infant age in both groups, but frequencies were higher in India at all ages. Most directives were positive requests and communicated from a distance. In both groups, two thirds of the directives involved repetition of content with common routines. Compliance increased gradually with age in frequency but not as a proportion of opportunities to comply. The prevalence but not the proportion of compliance was earlier and more frequent in India. In both groups, the rate of change over age in the frequency of parental directives was always steeper than but strongly related to the rate of change in the frequency of infant compliance. The emergence of cooperation with requests is situationally embedded and based on practice.