Affiliations: University of Connecticut, USA | University of Padua, Italy | Karolinska Institute, Sweden | Warsaw School of Social Psychology, Poland | The Pennsylvania State University, USA | University of Seville, Spain | Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australia
Note:  Address for correspondence: Charles M. Super, Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development, University of Connecticut, 348 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269-2058 USA. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: This study explores parental ethnotheories of children's temperament through mothers' responses to McDevitt and Carey's Behavioral Style Questionnaire (1978) for 299 children aged 3 to 8 years and interviews with their parents, in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. We first established a standardized, “derived etic” version of the questionnaire with adequate reliability for 8 of the original 9 scales. Cross-cultural comparisons of the scales' means showed generally similar perceptions of children's behavior. However, intercorrelations of the mean ratings with each other and with global “difficulty,” as presented through multidimensional scaling, showed both general tendencies and culture-specific patterns, which are further illustrated by parental discourse about “difficult” children in each sample. The findings underline the importance of parental ethnotheories for shaping the expression of temperament in development.