Researchers have found that babies from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts.
The study, published in the the Journal of Community Psychology, revealed that babies born inurban cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers.
“I was shocked, quite frankly, at how little there was in the literature on the effects of raising an infant in a rural vs urban environment,” said study lead author Maria Gartstein from Washington State University in the US.
“The fact that rural mothers in our study reported more frequent expressions of anger and frustration from their infants may be consequential as higher levels of frustration in infancy can increase risk for later attentional, emotional, social and behavioural problems,” Gartstein added.
For the findings, the researchers analysed and compared data from two previously conducted studies of mother-child interactions and infant temperament.
The first study consisted of 68 participants and their infants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the second consisted of 120 rural mothers and their infants from Whitman and Latah counties in the Inland Northwest of the US. Mothers used a questionnaire to record the frequency of 191 different behaviours their child displayed at six and 12 months after birth.
The researchers then analysed babies along 14 different dimensions that ranged from cuddliness to vocal reactivity. Parent-child interactions, where mothers were instructed to engage their infants in play in a typical fashion, were also video-recorded in the laboratory for analysis.
The researchers found urban moms tend to be better at picking up on when their babies wanted or needed something, or were ready to be done with play, and responding accordingly.
This in turn could have led to their infants generally being calmer and less easily upset, they said.
Gartstein said one of the more surprising findings from the study was that contrary to predictions, her team found no statistically significant differences in levels of parenting stress between urban and rural caregivers.
“This may be a result of different, but functionally equivalent, risk factors,” Gartstein said.” (IANS)