Note:  Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Hillary N. Fouts, Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee, 1215 W Cumberland Ave, Rm 115, Knoxville, TN 37996-1912, USA, Email: [email protected] edu
Note:  Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael E. Lamb, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and International Studies, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 3RQ, United Kingdom, Email: [email protected]
Abstract: In this paper we present a cross-cultural study of toddler interactions with other juveniles (1-15 years of age) in two small-scale societies, the Bofi farmers and foragers of Central Africa. This paper provides a unique perspective because child development studies have predominantly been conducted in Western industrialized settings. Most studies of juvenile interactions among non-Western small-scale cultures have focused either on sibling caretaking or the functional value of juvenile play-groups, while little attention has been given to various types of juvenile interactions. In this study we utilized naturalistic observations of 21 Bofi farmer and 22 Bofi forager toddlers to examine the role of cultural group and age in how toddlers interact with other juveniles, specifically with respect to caretaking, social, and conflict interactions. Toddler-juvenile caretaking interactions were quite similar among the Bofi foragers and farmers despite differing parental ethno-theories about juvenile caretaking, and age effects were apparent only among the farmers. Toddler-juvenile social interactions were predicted by both age and cultural group: Toddlers engaged socially with juveniles more as they grew older in both groups, but farmer toddlers interacted with juveniles more than did forager toddlers overall. Bofi farmer and forager toddler conflicts appeared quite infrequent by Western standards, although cultural group differences were apparent: Farmer toddlers engaged in more conflict with juveniles than forager toddlers did. Lastly, the topics of conflicts varied according to cultural group, but not age: Farmer toddler conflicts were more often related to disagreements over objects and responses to physical aggression than were forager toddler conflicts.
Keywords: toddlers, conflict, social interaction, caretaking, culture, Central Africa