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Parenting, culture, and the development of externalizing behaviors from age 7 to 14 in nine countries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2018

Jennifer E. Lansford*
Duke University
Jennifer Godwin
Duke University
Marc H. Bornstein
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Lei Chang
University of Macau
Kirby Deater-Deckard
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Laura Di Giunta
Università di Roma “La Sapienza”
Kenneth A. Dodge
Duke University
Patrick S. Malone
Duke University
Paul Oburu
Maseno University
Concetta Pastorelli
Università di Roma “La Sapienza”
Ann T. Skinner
Duke University
Emma Sorbring
University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Laurence Steinberg
Temple University King Abdulaziz University
Sombat Tapanya
Chiang Mai University
Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado
Universidad San Buenaventura
Liane Peña Alampay
Ateneo de Manila University
Suha M. Al-Hassan
Hashemite University Emirates College for Advanced Education
Dario Bacchini
University of Naples “Federico II”
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jennifer E. Lansford, Duke University, Center for Child and Family Policy, Box 90545, Durham, NC 27708; E-mail:


Using multilevel models, we examined mother-, father-, and child-reported (N = 1,336 families) externalizing behavior problem trajectories from age 7 to 14 in nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States). The intercept and slope of children's externalizing behavior trajectories varied both across individuals within culture and across cultures, and the variance was larger at the individual level than at the culture level. Mothers’ and children's endorsement of aggression as well as mothers’ authoritarian attitudes predicted higher age 8 intercepts of child externalizing behaviors. Furthermore, prediction from individual-level endorsement of aggression and authoritarian attitudes to more child externalizing behaviors was augmented by prediction from cultural-level endorsement of aggression and authoritarian attitudes, respectively. Cultures in which father-reported endorsement of aggression was higher and both mother- and father-reported authoritarian attitudes were higher also reported more child externalizing behavior problems at age 8. Among fathers, greater attributions regarding uncontrollable success in caregiving situations were associated with steeper declines in externalizing over time. Understanding cultural-level as well as individual-level correlates of children's externalizing behavior offers potential insights into prevention and intervention efforts that can be more effectively targeted at individual children and parents as well as targeted at changing cultural norms that increase the risk of children's and adolescents’ externalizing behavior.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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This research has been funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant RO1-HD054805, Fogarty International Center Grant RO3-TW008141, and the Jacobs Foundation. This research also was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH/NICHD, and an International Research Fellowship in collaboration with the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policies (EDePO) at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), London, United Kingdom, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 695300-HKADeC-ERC-2015-AdG). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or NICHD.


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