Speaker: Dr. Cheung Hoi Shan

Title: Cultural variations in the measurement and significance of maternal sensitivity

Date: Friday, January 29, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Although there is increasing interest in parenting and child development issues in Singapore, research in this field remains sparse. Local researchers and practitioners often find themselves having to rely on instruments or questionnaires developed in the West for research and programme evaluation. This is not ideal, mainly because we do not know if the instruments validly measure the same concept in Singapore, as they do in the West. This presentation discusses one recent effort in checking the relevance of a widely-used parental sensitivity measure – the Emotional Availability (EA) sensitivity scale – using a sample of Singaporean mothers and preschoolers. 

Participants were mainly from middle-class families from Chinese, Malay, Indian and ‘Other’ ethnic groups. Study 1 involved 30 mother-child dyads (children aged 4 to 6). Scores on EA sensitivity and the Maternal Behavior Q-set were highly correlated, suggesting convergent validity. In Study 2 (164 mother-child dyads), criterion validity was tested by the associations between EA sensitivity and children’s vocabulary and likeability by peers. Unlike findings from similar studies conducted in the U.S., EA sensitivity was negatively correlated with children’s likeability by female peers, suggesting that measures developed in Western contexts may not be fully applicable locally, or that the meaning of sensitivity may vary across cultures. 

About the Speaker:

 Hoi Shan is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology, NUS. Her research focusses on cultural differences in parenting practices, and their influence on the interpretation of parent-child relationship quality and children’s developmental outcomes.

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