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Int J Psychol. 2011 Feb 1;46(1):24-32. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.507766.

Multiple caregivers' touch interactions with young children among the Bofi foragers in Central Africa.

Author information

1
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-1912, USA. mjung2@utk.edu

Abstract

The current study examined the use of three types of touch (caregiving, active social-affectionate, and passive social-affectionate) by caregivers with young children among the Bofi foragers, a seminomadic group of hunter-gatherers in Central Africa. With the purpose of providing a more holistic view of touch interactions in early childhood, compared to extant Western mother-centric views, this study documents stylistic touch patterns used by multiple caregivers (mother, father, adult relatives, and juvenile relatives) with Bofi forager children. Thirty-five Bofi forager children, between 18 and 59 months of age, and their various caregivers were naturalistically observed over 12 daylight hours using a focal child observational technique. Frequencies of each type of touch and the rank order of types of touch that children received were compared between caregivers and examined by child age and gender. Even though nonmaternal caregivers showed high physical involvement with children, mothers exemplified the highest level of involvement. Overall, passive social-affectionate touch was utilized the most by all types of caregivers. Mothers used more caregiving touch, and fathers and adult relatives had similar frequencies of caregiving touch and active social-affectionate touch. In contrast, juvenile relatives showed more active social-affectionate touch with focal children. This study highlights the importance of examining multiple caregivers and physical interactions when studying early childhood experiences. Furthermore, by focusing on multiple caregivers and multiple types of touch, this study provides a more thorough characterization of the touch experiences of young children than previous studies of touch. Finally, the current study exemplifies the value of considering non-Western populations when investigating touch interactions.

PMID:
22044130
DOI:
10.1080/00207594.2010.507766
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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