Nonparents' and parents' beliefs regarding socioemotional and cognitive development in children

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




D. Bruce Carter


Developmental psychology, female attitudes, child cognitive development

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology


The present study examined nonparents' and parents' beliefs regarding both socio-emotional development and expression and cognitive development in children, topics that have been examined individually in the past. Researchers discovered nonparents and parents differ in the expectations they hold for socio-emotional development in children (Hayden & Carter, 1996) but no consistent differences have emerged in expectations for children's cognitive development (Ninio, 1988). Often the differences that do exist between these two groups are dependent on education and experience rather than parental status. College-aged nonparent females, expectant mothers (24 weeks and up), mothers of 7-10 month old infants, and mothers of kindergartners participated in this study. Surveys assessing timetables for socio-emotional development, affective responses toward children's emotions, Parent Attitudes Toward Children's Emotions Survey (PACES), and timetables for cognitive development and caregiving activities were used. Also, prior childcare experience and parenting self-efficacy were examined in relation to expectations in the two developmental domains. The hypothesis that differences would be found between nonparents' and parents' beliefs on the socio-emotional domain but not on the cognitive domain was partially supported. Nonparents had later expectations for children in both domains. Implications of these findings are discussed. Prior childcare experience was found to correlate positively with parenting self-efficacy. Ethnicity, rather than education, was identified as an important covariate that merits further attention.