Cultural influences are very important to cognitive development in young children. The way in which intelligence is defined varies substantially based on the culture (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2004). Because of this variability, different types of cognitive abilities may be valued more highly in some cultures than in others. For example, Western cultures tend to associate processing speed with intelligence, such that the faster your cognitive response is, the more intelligent you are. In contrast, in Uganda, taking the time to think things through, gather information and evaluate, and being active, are all indicators of individuals with higher intellect (Rogoff & Chavajay, 1995). Similarly, traditional cultures also seem value to socio-emotional aptitude over more Westernized notions of academic intelligence (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2004). Even within developed, Western cultures, there is variability between European-American, African-American, and Hispanic mothers with regard to use of stimulating materials and experiences (Bradley et al., 1989 as cited by Maschinot, 2008). That is, African-American and Hispanic mothers, regardless of SES, tend to wait until the child is about three years of age before they actively attempt to create an intellectually stimulating environment. This is in contrast to European-American mothers. It could be that minority mothers do not understand their toddlers’ intellectual capacity or it could be that they value other skills, such as social competence, more highly early in the children’s lives. Consequently, it is important to be familiar with the role that culture plays in cognitive and psychosocial development. Using Google and/or the library database see what information you can develop out about the cultural development of infants.
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