Infants from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Community Psychology.
Babies born in big cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers.
The study, led by Washington State University psychologist Maria Gartstein and WSU graduate student Alyssa Neumann, examines differences in infant temperament, parent-child interactions and parenting stress between families of similar socioeconomic and racial composition in the Inland Northwest and the San Francisco Bay area.
The researchers found urban moms tend to be better at picking up on when their babies wanted or needed something, or were ready to be done with play, and responding accordingly. This in turn could have led to their infants generally being calmer and “This in turn could have led to their infants generally being calmer and less easily upset. Rural moms reported more frequent expressions of negative emotions from their infants, particularly when they were distressed due to limitations.
The results of Gartstein and Neumann’s work in many ways reflect the findings of previous research investigating differences in child-rearing practices between urban and rural families. However, unlike past studies, which have looked at the effects of living in an urban vs. rural environment on older children, Gartstein and Neumann’s analysis specifically focuses on infants.