Cultural differences in physical contact between hispanic and anglo mother-infant dyads living in the united states

Fabiana Franco, Alan Fogel, Daniel S. Messinger, Christopher A. Frazier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


This is a study of differences in physical contact and tactile interpersonal behaviours between Hispanic and Anglo mothers and infants living in the United States. Infants were 9 months old and 52 mother-infant dyads, 26 Hispanic and 26 Anglo, were videotaped during free play without toys in a university laboratory playroom. Coders judged the interpersonal distance, physical contact and affectionate touch from the videotapes and mothers responded to a questionnaire about the importance of physical contact and affectionate touch in their relationship with their infant. From questionnaire data we found that Hispanic and Anglo mothers both touch their infants on a daily basis, although Hispanic mothers report touching more frequently, being more affectionate with their infants and having more skin-to-skin contact. From videotaped observations we found that there were no overall differences in mother-infant touch between the two cultures; however, the Hispanic mothers showed more close touch and more close and affectionate touch compared to Anglo mothers, who showed more distal touch. The results are discussed in terms of the role of touch in infant development and cultural differences in the evaluation of close physical contact and touch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalInfant and Child Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Affection
  • Anglo-American
  • Communication
  • Cultural differences
  • Hispanic-American
  • Infancy
  • Mother-infant interaction
  • Physical contact
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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