Waiting for the Second Treat: Developing Culture-Specific Modes of Self-Regulation

Child Dev. 2018 May;89(3):e261-e277. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12847. Epub 2017 Jun 6.


The development of self-regulation has been studied primarily in Western middle-class contexts and has, therefore, neglected what is known about culturally varying self-concepts and socialization strategies. The research reported here compared the self-regulatory competencies of German middle-class (N = 125) and rural Cameroonian Nso preschoolers (N = 76) using the Marshmallow test (Mischel, 2014). Study 1 revealed that 4-year-old Nso children showed better delay-of-gratification performance than their German peers. Study 2 revealed that culture-specific maternal socialization goals and interaction behaviors were related to delay-of-gratification performance. Nso mothers' focus on hierarchical relational socialization goals and responsive control seems to support children's delay-of-gratification performance more than German middle-class mothers' emphasis on psychological autonomous socialization goals and sensitive, child-centered parenting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cameroon / ethnology
  • Child Behavior / ethnology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Delay Discounting / physiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / ethnology*
  • Parenting / ethnology*
  • Rural Population
  • Self-Control*
  • Socialization*