DOI: 10.5176/2251-1865_CBP15.33

Authors: Jun Pei Lim, Lidia Suárez, Litwee Sim, Birit F. P. Broekman, Yap Seng Chong, Kenneth Kwek, Peter Gluckman, Seang-Mei Saw, Michael Meaney, Anne Rifkin-Graboi

Abstract:

Western societies put emphasis on the development of the individual self, while Asian societies prioritize the sense of the self in relation to social groups. In Western populations roughly 60{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of 18-month-old toddlers show self-referential behavior upon viewing themselves reflected in a mirror. Self-referential behavior has been used as a measure of self-recognition and development of the self. The aim of the current study was to investigate possible cultural differences in toddler’s self-referential behavior while looking at themselves in a mirror. The current study involved 329 18-months-old Southeast Asian, multi-ethnic Singaporean toddlers taking part in a larger prospective mother-offspring birth cohort study GUSTO. In contrast to Western results, only 31.3 {6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of Singaporean toddlers showed mirror self-recognition behavior. However, rates significantly differed by ethnicity, with Singaporean Indian toddlers showing more self-referential behavior than Singaporean Malay and Chinese toddlers. Thus, collectivistic values could explain differences in self-referential behavior and expression of self-recognition. We propose that the sense of the self might have developed similarly across different cultures but that other variables, such as parenting styles, might influence self-referential behavior.

Keywords: cultural differences; mirror self-recognition; toddlers

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