Autonomy orientation in Estonian and Swedish family interactions

Tiia Tulviste and Boel De Geer


This paper compares the tendency to express autonomy in 20 Estonian, 20 Swedish, and 20 Swedish Estonian middle-class families with preadolescent children during videotaped family mealtimes. The results indicate that compared to the Swedish participants, participants from both Estonian samples expressed autonomy less frequently. Being talkative does not always mean expressing more autonomy. The Swedish preadolescents who were the most talkative and whose mothers were talking less, were more likely to express their personal needs, opinions and preferences. Possible reasons of cultural variability in autonomy orientation are discussed.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Bellah, R.N., R. Madsen, W.M. Sullivan, A. Swidler, and S.M. Tipton
(1986) Habits of the heart. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
Bornstein, M.H., J. Tal, and C.S. Tamis-Le Monda
(1991) Parenting in cross-cultural perspective: The United States, France and Japan. In M.H. Bornstein (ed.), Cultural approaches to parenting. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp 69-90.Google Scholar
Budwig, N
(2000) Language and the construction of self. In N. Budwig, I.Č. Uzgiris, and J.V. Werstsch (eds.), Communication: An arena of development. Stamford, CA: Ablex, pp 195-214.Google Scholar
Collins, W.A., T. Gleason, and A. Sesma
(1997) Internalization, autonomy, and relationships: Development during adolescence. In J.E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values. A handbook of contemporary theory. New York: Wiley, pp. 78-99.Google Scholar
Dahlberg, G
(1992) The parent-child relationship and socialization in the context of modern childhood: The case of Sweden. In J.L. Roopnarine and D.B. Carter (eds.), Parent-child socialization in diverse cultures. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, pp. 121-137.Google Scholar
Dennis, T.A., P.M. Cole, C. Zahn-Waxler, and I. Mizuta
(2002) Self in context: Autonomy and relatedness in Japanese and U.S. mother-preschooler dyads. Child Development 73: 1803-1817. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Dennis, T.A., M. Talih, P.M. Cole, C. Zahn-Waxler, and I. Mizuta
(2007) The socialization of autonomy and relatedness. Sequential verbal exchanges in Japanese and U.S. mother-preschooler dyads. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 38: 729-749. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Feldman, S.S., and D.A. Rosenthal
(1991) Age expectations of behavioral autonomy in Hong Kong, Australian and American youth: The influence of family variables and adolescents’ values. International Journal of Psychology 26: 1-23. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Forman, D.R
(2007) Autonomy, compliance, and internalization. In C.A. Brownell & C.B. Kopp (eds.), Socioemotional development in the toddler years. Transitions and Transformations. New York, London: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Greenfield, P.M., H. Keller, A. Fuligni, and A. Maynard
(2003) Cultural development through universal developmental tasks. Annual Review of Psychology 54: 1-23. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Hofstede, G
(2001) Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Junefelt, K., and T. Tulviste
(1999) A question of choice. In Psycholinguistics on the threshold of the year 2000. Proceedings of the 5th International Congress of the International Society of Applied Psycholinguistics. 25-27 June 1997, Porto, Portugal, 317-321.
Kagitçibaşi, Ç
(1996) Family and human development across cultures. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Kagitçibaşi Psycholinguistics on the threshold of the year, Ç (2005) Autonomy and relatedness in cultural context. Implications for self and family. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 36: 403–422. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Kim, H.S
(2002) Speech and silence: A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on psychology. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering 62.9-B, April 2002.Google Scholar
Kim, H.S., and H.R. Markus
(2002) Freedom of speech and freedom of silence: An analysis of talking as a cultural practice. In R.A. Shweder, M. Minow, & H.R. Markus (eds.), Engaging cultural differences: The multicultural challenge in liberal democracies. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, pp. 432-452.Google Scholar
Kochanska, G., K.C. Coy, and K.T. Murray
(2001) The development of self-regulation in the first four years of life. Child Development 72: 1091-1111. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
MacWhinney, B
(1991) The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk. Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.Google Scholar
Markus, H., and S. Kitayama
(1991) Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review 98: 224-253. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Matas, L., R.A. Arend, and L.A. Stroufe
(1978) Continuity of adaptation in the second year: The relationship between quality of attachment and later competence. Child Development 49: 547-556. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
McCroskey, J.C., N.F. Burroughs, Å. Daun,.and V.P. Richmond
(1990) Correlates of quietness: Swedish and American perspectives. Communication Quarterly 2: 127–137. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Raeff, C., P.M. Greenfield, and B. Quiroz
(2000) Conceptualizing interpersonal relationships in the cultural contexts of individualism and collectivism. In S. Harkness, C. Raeff, & C.M. Super (eds.), Variability in the social construction of the child: New directions in child and adolescent development. Vol. 87. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp 59-74.Google Scholar
Ryan, R.M., and E.L. Deci
(2006) Self-Regulation and the problem of human autonomy: Does psychology need choice, self-determination, and will? Journal of Personality 74: 1557-1595. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ryan, R.M., and J.H. Lynch
(1989) Emotional autonomy versus detachment. Revisiting the vicissitudes of adolescence and young adulthood. Child Development 60: 340-356. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Schieffelin, B.B., and E. Ochs
(eds.) (1986) Language socialization across cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Shweder, R.A., J.J. Goodnow, G. Hatano, R.A. LeVine, H. Markus, and P. Miller
(1998) The cultural psychology of development: One mind, many mentalities. In R.M. Lerner (Vol. ed.) & W. Damon (Series ed.), Handbook of child psychology. Vol. 1: Theoretical models of human development. New York: Wiley, pp. 865-937.Google Scholar
Smetana, J., H. Crean, and N. Campione-Barr
(2005) Adolescents’ and parents’ changing conceptions of parental autority. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development 108: 31-46. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Tulviste, T
(2000) Socialization at meals: A comparison of American and Estonian mother-adolescent interaction. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 31: 537-556. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Tulviste, T., L. Mizera, B. De Geer, and M.-T. Tryggvason
(2003a) A comparison of Estonian, Swedish, and Finnish mothers’ controlling attitudes and behavior. International Journal of Psychology 38: 11-18. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2003b) A silent Finn, a silent Finno-Ugric, or a silent Nordic? A comparative study of Estonian, Finnish and Swedish mother-adolescent interactions. Applied Psycholinguistics 24 : 249-265.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2007) Child-rearing goals of Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish mothers. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 48.8: 487-497. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Vygotsky, L.S
(1987) Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Wang, Q., and M.D. Leichtman
(2000) Same beginnings, different stories: A comparison of American and Chinese children’s narratives. Child Development 71: 1329-1346. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Wertsch, J.V
(1979) From social interaction to higher psychological processes: A clarification and application of Vygotsky’s theory. Human Development 22: 1-22. CrossrefGoogle Scholar