11 Culture and Child Development

Developmental Psychology


  1. Jayanthi Mistry1,
  2. Mariah Contreras2,
  3. Ranjana Dutta3

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop206011

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Mistry, J., Contreras, M. and Dutta, R. 2012. Culture and Child Development . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 6:III:11.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

  2. 2

    Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

  3. 3

    Saginaw Valley State University, Department of Psychology, University Center, MI, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


In this chapter, we document key scholarship in integrating culture and child development in the first decade of the 21stst century. We argue that there is a two-fold challenge for an integration of perspectives from cross-cultural, cultural, and developmental psychology: (11) to resolve continuing debates regarding the conceptualization of culture; and (22) to frame the central questions for culturally inclusive theories of development, such that each sub-discipline has something of value to contribute. To address these challenges, we selectively synthesize key scholarship, highlighting two specific areas of convergences that we view as representing the most significant advances in the integration of culture and child development. First, we document emerging convergence about the mutually constitutive nature of individual development and culture. We review promising constructs that integrate person and culture into a single unit of analysis, claiming that these are paving the way for empirical investigations that will advance the development of culturally inclusive theories of human development. Second, we argue that a common interest across all three sub-disciplines in how developmental processes and changes are situated in context is triggering an integration of approaches. We illustrate how, addressing the three goals for cultural developmental science identified by Bornstein (2010) to describe, explain, and interpret the range of cultural variations in human psychological functioning, requires an integration of cross-cultural, cultural, and developmental psychology.


  • culture and development;
  • integrative perspectives on development;
  • culturally situated developmental processes;
  • relational and interpretive perspectives on development