Research Shows That Different Ethnic Groups Have Different Temperaments

Liu Xinyu

PureInsight | November 4, 2002

According to a report on the US-China Medical Net, scholars from the Institute of Psychological Health of Beijing University, Harvard University, and Dublin University joined forces in a study, titled "A Cross Culture Comparative Study of Babies' Temperament." The study showed that Chinese babies were inheritably different from Caucasian babies in behavior. Compared to European babies, Chinese babies were not as active, as fussy, or as vocal. In addition, their responses to external stimulation were less intense than Caucasian babies.

The study selected hundreds of 4-month-old babies from China, the United States, and Ireland. The experts found that these babies not only differ in complexion, hair texture, and body shape, but also in their temperament.

Temperament is a major characteristic of one's personality. It is an inborn quality. Although it is considered relatively stable, one's temperament is likely to change due to influence from the environment. Psychologists think babies' temperaments are revealed in the level of intensity of their reactions to external stimulation and sensitivity to sleep disturbance.

In Beijing, Boston, and Dublin, the researchers and the mothers first fed the babies, and then put these babies into a baby chair. The mothers would keep smiling at their babies for one minute. Next the researchers would give the babies a series of external stimulations. For example, they played pre-recorded sounds in front of the babies, they waved plastic toys in front of them, and they exploded balloons on top of their heads. The researchers watched the babies' reactions and behaviors during the processes.

Regardless of the country of origin, the baby boys laughed more than the baby girls, and also made more sounds. The babies from the United States and Ireland made more sounds than the babies from China. When the researchers interrupted the babies' sleep, the babies from United States woke up first, followed by the babies from Ireland. The Chinese babies woke up last.

Smiling was the only behavior with no difference between Chinese and Caucasian babies. American babies cried more frequently than Chinese babies. American and Irish babies were more active and fussier.

Actually more than 30 years ago, American scientists had done a comparative study on one-year-old babies from Asia and Europe. They concluded that the Chinese babies were less active, quieter, more emotionally stable, more predictable, and more likely to form habits. Chinese babies were also capable of pacifying themselves when they were uneasy. This study has confirmed again that Chinese and Caucasian babies differ not only in appearance but also in temperament.

A professor at the Institute of Psychological Health of Beijing University, who participated in the study, declared "It is difficult to contribute the Chinese babies' inactivity or infrequent cries to any early age experiences. In other words, these differences did not result from their different living environments. Therefore, we concluded that the Chinese babies and Caucasian babies have different inborn temperaments.

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