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Young children’s questions are ubiquitous around the world, yet question–asking and –answering are cultural practices; we must investigate cultural variation in how these practices develop rather than assume that certain practices are universal. We question an assumption in the literature that children from families of lower income or schooling have “deficits” in cognitive development. In this chapter, we critique deficit approaches and review cross–cultural studies of children’s questions within the frame of avoiding deficit assumptions. We then present findings regarding children’s questions from two studies of family conversation in different communities: a diary study of children’s spontaneous conversations about nature, and a study of parent–child conversations in a sink–and–float prediction task. In both studies, contrary to deficit ideas, we found evidence that children whose parents have lower levels of schooling showed evidence of more science–related reasoning in their questions than did those from the higher schooling group – children in the “basic schooling” group asked more explanation-seeking (not fact–seeking) questions in one study, and more conceptual (not procedural) questions in the other. Asking questions may be a cultural universal, yet our findings reveal diversity and raise questions about normativity, as well as how to define sophisticated reasoning.
There is growing research interest in the influence of the built environment on mental disorders.
To estimate the variation in the prevalence of common mental disorders attributable to individuals and the built environment of geographical sectors where they live.
A sample of 3870 adults (response rate 90%) clustered in 248 geographical sectors participated in a household cross-sectional survey in Santiago, Chile. Independently rated contextual measures of the built environment were obtained. The Clinical Interview Schedule was used to estimate the prevalence of common mental disorders.
There was a significant association between the quality of the built environment of small geographical sectors and the presence of common mental disorders among its residents. The better the quality of the built environment, the lower the scores for psychiatric symptoms; however, only a small proportion of the variation in common mental disorder existed at sector level, after adjusting for individual factors.
Findings from our study, using a contextual assessment of the quality of the built environment and multilevel modelling in the analysis, suggest these associations may be more marked in non-Western settings with more homogeneous geographical sectors.
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