Ohio State University Mutually Responsive Orientation Article Summary Please summarize these articles with your own words. Use double space and write no lo

Ohio State University Mutually Responsive Orientation Article Summary Please summarize these articles with your own words. Use double space and write no longer than 2 pages (or just 1 page). Current Directions in Psychological
Mutually Responsive Orientation Between Mothers and Their Young Children: A Context for the Early
Development of Conscience
Grazyna Kochanska
Current Directions in Psychological Science 2002 11: 191
DOI: 10.1111/1467-8721.00198
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These basic questions are central to
any evolutionary approach. Psychologists who do not like the simplicity of the answers currently
coming out of evolutionary psychology should make an effort to
improve them, to broaden its intellectual horizon, because all of psychology would stand to gain from
a more enlightened evolutionary
Recommended Reading
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Mayr, E. (2001). What evolution is.
New York: Basic Books.
Zimmer, C. (2001). Evolution: The triumph of an idea. New York: Harper
Acknowledgments— I thank Allison
Berger and Virginia Holt for providing
the transcript of my 2001 Focus on Science Plenary Address, which was presented at the annual meeting of the
American Psychological Association in
San Francisco and was on the topic of this
essay. I am also grateful to Mauricio Papini and Scott Lilienfeld for comments on
previous versions of the manuscript.
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Mutually Responsive Orientation
Between Mothers and Their Young
Children: A Context for the Early
Development of Conscience
dinal beneficial effects of MRO
for early development of conscience have been replicated
across studies, for a broad range
of developmental periods from
infancy through early school
age, and using a wide variety of
behavioral, emotional, and cognitive measures of conscience in
the laboratory, at home, and in
school. These findings highlight
the importance of the early parent-child relationship for subsequent moral development.
Grazyna Kochanska1
Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Some parent-child dyads establish a mutually responsive
orientation (MRO), a relationship that is close, mutually
binding, cooperative, and affectively positive. Such relationships have two main
characteristics—mutual responsiveness and shared positive affect—and they foster the
development of conscience in
young children. Children growing up with parents who are responsive to their needs and
whose interactions are infused
with happy emotions adopt a
willing, responsive stance toward parental influence and become eager to embrace parental
values and standards for behavior. The concurrent and longitu-
relationships; mutuality; conscience
How do young children become
aware of rules, values, and standards
of behavior accepted within their
Copyright © 2002 American Psychological Society
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families and cultures? How do they
gradually come to internalize those
values and make them their own?
Why do some children adopt societal norms wholeheartedly and with
ease, and become conscientious citizens, whereas others do not?
The emergence of an individual
conscience, a reliable internal guidance system that regulates conduct
without the need for external control, is the endpoint of the process
of integrating a child into a broader
network of values. How this process works continues to be debated
as one of the perennial and central
issues in human socialization
(Grusec, 1997).
Research on conscience was once
dominated by a cognitive approach,
focused on children’s abstract understanding of societal rules, measured
by their ability to reason about hypothetical moral dilemmas. Moral development was seen as a product of
cognitive maturation, aided by peer
interactions, but fundamentally unrelated to parental influence. In contrast, other theories acknowledged
parental contributions. Parents and
other socializing agents were seen as
critical in several versions of learning
theory. Those approaches emphasized the importance of parental discipline and modeling as instruments
that modify and shape children’s behavior. Somewhat later, attributional
theories underscored the importance
of children’s perceptions of parental
discipline, and revealed surprising,
often paradoxical effects of salient
parental rewards and punishments.
More recently, many scholars
have come to appreciate an approach grounded in psychoanalytic and neo-psychoanalytic theories. Although Freud’s views on
the early development of conscience as linked to the Oedipus or
Electra complex have long been
discarded, his general emphasis on
the role of early emotions and early
relationships in emerging morality
has proven insightful. That approach has been strongly reinvigo-
rated and modernized by John
Bowlby and the burgeoning research on attachment. From that
perspective, moral emotions, moral
conduct, and moral thought are all
components of an internal guidance system, or conscience, whose
foundations are established in
early childhood in the context of
socialization in the family. The
early parent-child relationship,
which encompasses but is not limited to control and discipline, can
substantially foster or undermine
that process (Emde, Biringen, Clyman, & Oppenheim, 1991).
In 1951, Robert Sears argued for
a shift in psychological research
from studying individuals to
studying dyads. Over the past two
or three decades, the science of relationships has blossomed in personality, social, and developmental
psychology (Collins & Laursen, 1999;
Reis, Collins, & Berscheid, 2000). Several scholars have proposed that
when relationship partners—whether
two adults or a parent and a child—
are responsive and attuned to each
other, are mutually supportive,
and enjoy being together, they
form an internal model of their relationship as a cooperative enterprise, and develop an eager, receptive stance toward each other’s
influence and a compelling sense
of obligation to willingly comply
with the other. For example, Clark
(1984) referred to “communal relationships” in adults as contexts in
which the partners are invested in
each other’s well-being, are empathic and responsive to each
other, and experience an internal
sense of mutual obligation.
In developmental research, those
resurging perspectives afford a productive vantage point for exploring
social development. Socialization is
seen as a process jointly constructed
by parents and children over time
(Collins & Laursen, 1999; Collins,
Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington,
& Bornstein, 2000; Maccoby, 1999;
Reis et al., 2000). Maccoby (1999)
referred to parent-child mutuality
as a positive socialization force that
engenders a spirit of cooperation in
the child. Attachment scholars believe that children raised in a loving,
responsive manner become eager
to cooperate with their caregivers
and to embrace their values.
To describe such relationships
between parents and children, my
colleagues and I have proposed a
construct of mutually responsive orientation (MRO). MRO is a positive,
close, mutually binding, and cooperative relationship, which encompasses two components: responsiveness and shared positive affect .
Responsiveness refers to the parent’s and the child’s willing, sensitive, supportive, and developmentally appropriate response to one
another’s signals of distress, unhappiness, needs, bids for attention, or attempts to exert influence.
Shared positive affect refers to the
“good times” shared by the parent
and the child—pleasurable, harmonious, smoothly flowing interactions infused with positive emotions experienced by both.
We further proposed that children who grow up in mutually responsive dyads, compared with
those who do not, become more eager to embrace their parents’ values and more likely to develop a
strong conscience. Their eager
stance to embrace parental values
reflects an internal sense of obligation to respond positively to parental influence, and emerges from a
history of mutually gratifying, mutually accommodating experiences.
A child who has developed a mutually responsive relationship with
the parent comes to trust the parent and to expect that the parent
will be responsive and supportive;
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at the same time, the child comes to
feel motivated to cooperate willingly with the parent, to embrace
the parent’s values, and to adopt
parental standards for behavior
and make them his or her own. In
this view, the parent-child relationship influences the child’s conscience mainly through a gradually
evolving shared working model of
the relationship as a mutually cooperative enterprise rather than
through the cumulative history of
parental discipline as the instrument of behavior modification.
In two large studies, we measured the qualities of the motherchild relationship and the child’s
emerging conscience for more than
200 mother-child dyads. To assess
the strength of MRO for the individual dyads, we observed the
mothers and children interacting in
multiple lengthy, naturalistic yet
carefully scripted contexts at home
and in the laboratory. The situations we observed included caregiving routines, preparing and eating meals, playing, relaxing, and
doing household chores. We coded
each mother’s responsiveness to her
child’s numerous signals of needs,
signs of physical or emotional distress or discomfort, bids for attention, and social overtures. We also
assessed shared positive affect by
coding the flow of emotion expression for both the mother and the
child over the course of each interaction, focusing particularly on the
times when they both displayed
positive emotion. We obtained
these measures repeatedly, following the same families over a period
of several years.
In the individual dyads, the degree of MRO was significantly con-
sistent across separate sessions
close in time, and significantly stable over several years. This indicates that our observational markers captured a robust quality of the
relationships that unfolded along a
fairly stable dyadic trajectory.
Using a broad variety of laboratory paradigms, we also observed
rich manifestations of the young
children’s conscience: moral emotions, moral conduct, and moral
cognition. These assessments took
place at many points in the children’s development—starting in their
2nd year and continuing until early
school age. The children’s moral
emotions, including guilt, discomfort, concern, and empathy, were
observed when they were led to
believe that they had violated a
standard of conduct, or when they
witnessed others’ distress. While
they were unsupervised, either
alone or with peers, their moral
conduct was assessed in many
types of situations in which they
faced strong temptations to break
various rules and were coaxed to
violate standards of behavior.
Their moral cognition was measured by presenting them with
age-appropriate, hypothetical
moral dilemmas and asking them
to express their thoughts and feelings about rules and transgressions, and consider moral decisions. We also asked their mothers
and teachers to evaluate the children’s moral emotions and conduct displayed in environments
outside the laboratory—at home
and at school.
Both studies supported the view
that children who grow up in a
context of a highly mutually responsive relationship with their
mothers develop strong consciences
(Kochanska, 1997; Kochanska, Forman, & Coy, 1999; Kochanska &
Murray, 2000). The strength of the
replicated findings was striking,
given the broad range of the children’s ages and the wide variety of
conscience measures used.
In both studies, the links between MRO and the development
of conscience were both concurrent
and longitudinal. The concurrent
links were found for both toddlers
and preschoolers. The longitudinal
findings were robust: MRO in infancy predicted conscience development in the 2nd year, and MRO
in toddlerhood predicted children’s conscience at preschool age
and again at early school age. The
history of MRO in the first 2 years
predicted conscience at age 5. In
short, the beneficial effect of MRO
on the development of conscience
was evident across diverse measures
of conscience involving emotions,
conduct, and cognition. It was also
evident whether conscience was
assessed by observations in the laboratory or reports from mothers
and teachers. These results have
been replicated by other researchers (Laible & Thompson, 2000).
What causal mechanisms may
be responsible for these well-established empirical findings? Using statistical approaches (sequences of
multiple regressions, as well as
structural equations modeling, or
SEM) to analyze the causal factors
that accounted for the associations
in our data, we determined that
MRO exerts its influence through
at least two mechanisms.
The first mechanism involves
promoting the child’s positive
mood. Early MRO between the
parent and the child contributes to
the child’s positive, happy disposition, and that, in turn, increases his
or her broad eagerness to behave
prosocially. This finding is consistent with a large body of research
in social and developmental psychology (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998).
Adults and children who are in a
positive mood have often been
Copyright © 2002 American Psychological Society
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found to be more prosocial, altruistic, cooperative, rule abiding, and
socially responsive than those who
are in neutral or negative moods.
The second mechanism involves promoting the child’s responsive stance toward parental
influence. We have found that in
playlike teaching situations, children in mutually responsive relationships are attuned to their
mothers and eagerly follow their
lead (Forman & Kochanska, 2001;
Kochanska et al., 1999). In discipline situations, they show what we
called committed compliance—willing, eager, wholehearted cooperation with the parent (Kochanska,
Coy, & Murray, 2001). Such a generalized responsive stance may be
an intermediate step between simple cooperation with the parent
and genuine internalization of parental rules, evident even in the
parent’s absence. We believe it reflects the child’s emerging working
model of a cooperative, reciprocal,
mutually accommodating relationship in which partners naturally do
things for one another without abrogating their autonomy.
MRO and Qualities
of Individuals
It takes two to develop dyadic
MRO. Although the relationship between a parent and child—like any
relationship—is more than a simple sum of their characteristics,
those characteristics may nevertheless foster or impede the formation
of MRO. Recent advances in research on the role of genetics in behavior and on the biological foundations of children’s temperament
are beginning to be reflected in scientific work in what has been traditionally conceived as the domain of
relationships. For example, Deater-
Deckard and O’Connor (2000),
studying identical and fraternal
twins, and biological and adoptive
siblings, found that parent-child
MRO was driven, in part, by the
child’s genetically based qualities.
In addition, a child’s biologically
based traits, such as being prone to
anger or joy, or being hard or easy
to soothe, may facilitate or undermine the evolution of the child’s relationships within particular dyads.
Being responsive to and having enjoyable interactions with a child
may be more challenging if the
child is temperamentally difficult
than if he or she is easygoing and
Mothers’ traits, some also biologically based, may be important
as well. We have found that the
more empathic mothers are, the
better able they are to form MRO
with their children (Kochanska,
1997). A large body of research indicates that depression and high
levels of negative emotion in mothers reduce their responsiveness
and positive behavior when interacting with their young children.
More complex interplay between biological and relationship
factors also deserves future research attention. Our findings indicate that MRO may be particularly
beneficial for children with certain
temperaments, particularly fearless, thrill-seeking children whose
behavior is not easily modified by
actual or anticipated punishments
and threats. Other interactions between temperament and relationships are also possible.
MRO as a Developmentally
Changing System
A mutually responsive relationship between a parent and an infant differs from a mutually responsive relationship between a
parent and a preschooler, or between a parent and an adolescent.
The contexts and currency of par-
ent-child interactions change. In infancy, those contexts include mostly
the contexts of caregiving, pla…
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