Previous research shows cross-cultural differences in adult personality and child temperament, yet the developmental origin of these cultural differences remains unclear. To understand a potential role of socialization grounded in cultural values, this study investigated culturally specific maternal perceptions of child and children's development of temperament in the U.S. and Japan. Maternal perception of child was assessed via maternal interview in the U.S. (n = 42) and Japan (n = 40). Six months after the interview, child's temperament was assessed. Cross-cultural differences in maternal perception of child and child's temperament, and the relation between the two were analyzed. US-American infants scored higher on the surgency/extraversion trait than Japanese infants, whereas Japanese infants scored higher on the negative affectivity/neuroticism trait than US-American infants. US-American mothers used more positive evaluation and private/autonomy descriptions of their infants, whereas Japanese mothers used more negative evaluation and context-specific descriptions of their infants by making references to other people, time, or location. Child's negative affectivity trait was closely related to maternal perception of child's social/context characteristics and negative evaluations. The findings provide support for the socio-cultural framework of temperament development and suggest an important consideration of cultural factors when designing educational and parenting programs.
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