Culture and early infancy among central African foragers and farmers

Dev Psychol. 1998 Jul;34(4):653-61. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.34.4.653.


Everyday infant experiences among the Aka hunter-gatherers and the neighboring Ngandu farmers were observed and compared. Twenty Aka and 21 Ngandu 3- to 4-month-olds and 20 Aka and 20 Ngandu 9- to 10-month-olds were observed for 3 hr on each of 4 days so that all 12 daylight hr were covered. The Aka infants were more likely to be held, fed, and asleep or drowsy, whereas Ngandu infants were more likely to be alone and to fuss or cry, smile, vocalize, or play. The amount of crying, soothing, feeding, and sleeping declined over time in both groups. Distal social interaction increased over time among the Ngandu but not among the Aka. Despite striking cultural differences on many variables, however, functional context systematically affected the relative prominence of the infants' behavior in both cultural groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Agriculture
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant Care*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Social Behavior