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What A Cross Cultural Study Of Babies Can Teach You About Your Kid’s Happiness

Despite the fact that you can’t bring them anywhere on account of all the crying and pooping, babies are social creatures, And a new study from the European Journal Of Development Psychology found that American infants are as gregarious as they get. But before you celebrate the superiority of your chatty Cathys (and…Carls?), the results revealed that they’re also more impulsive.

Well, sort of. Unfortunately the research itself does not exactly explain how or why U.S. babies are more social and impulsive, because that wasn’t the point. Instead they wanted to test a theory that toddler temperament is linked with parents’ values. The study looked at kids from Chile, South Korea, and Poland, too. And the difference between them and American toddlers offers a few clues.

Researchers asked mothers from all 4 countries about the nearly 200 different social behaviors of their baby. Then they compared the results. In addition to the findings about U.S. babies, the research suggests that Polish babies took the longest to comfort and displayed the most melancholy (sup Danes?). But this seriousness might actually be a good thing. Because, per Maria Gartstein, co-author of the study, it suggests that polish infants are aren’t discouraged from expressing negative emotions.


Although more research is needed, Gartstein suspects that U.S. parents’ tendency to fix negative feelings may have something to do with why their babies are so impulsive. In other words? They’re quick to pull the trigger because you are. So if your kid is acting as social as they are impulsive, ask “What would a John Belushi character do?” Then do the opposite.