The Role of Ethnicity in Observers' Ratings of Mother-Child Behavior

Elizabeth A. Harvey, Julie L. Friedman-Weieneth, Amy L. Miner, Rachel J. Bartolomei, Sara D. Youngwirth, Rebecca L. Hashim, David H. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study examined the role of ethnicity in untrained observers' ratings of videotaped mother-child interactions. Participants were Black, White, and Latino undergraduates (N = 109), who rated videotapes of 4 Black, 4 White, and 4 Latino mother-child dyads. Overall, participants of different ethnicities showed more similarities than differences in their ratings of parent-child behavior. There was, however, evidence that participant ethnicity and parent-child ethnicity interacted for ratings of child defiance/negative emotion. Black and White participants differed in their ratings of Black and White children's defiance/negative emotion, with members of each ethnic group favoring children of their own ethnic group. Intergroup contact appeared to play a role in ratings of parent behavior among Black observers. Black observers who reported low intergroup contact tended to rate Black mothers high on strictness and low on permissiveness. More research is needed to better understand the role of ethnicity in observers' ratings of parent and child behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1497-1508
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • child behavior
  • direct observation
  • ethnicity
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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