3 minute read



Thus, in the area of socialization, there has been a steady progression from unidirectional-effects models—first, from parent to child, and then from child to parent—to bidirectional-effects models, and finally to multidirectional-effects models. The latter are more complex, more ecologically valid (e.g., Bronfenbrenner 1979), but more difficult to test empirically (e.g., Peterson and Haan 1999). Nevertheless, it seems reasonable that models of socialization should reflect more sophisticated contextual theoretical approaches. To return to the earlier question: Who are the agents or forces of socialization? According to the best thinkers in the area of socialization, the agents or forces of socialization are legion. They include parents, children, teachers, peers, institutions, the media, and society.

Parents socialize children—but children also socialize parents. Peers, according to Judith Harris's (1995) model of peer group socialization, may socialize children even more so than parents. Likewise, parents' families and friends socialize parents. Furthermore, the media, historical events (e.g., war, famine, industrialization), socioeconomic status, family structure, culture—all of these influence both parents and their children. By leaving these important factors out of our models of socialization, we limit the complexity of our theoretical models and thus our ability to explain important outcomes. Finally, socialization occurs in many different contexts (i.e., at home, in the workplace) as well as over the life-course.


Abeykoon, A. T. P. L. (1995). "Sex Preference in South Asia: Sri Lanka an Outlier." Asia-Pacific Population Journal 10:5–16.

Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1989). "Attachments beyond Infancy." American Psychologist 44:709–716.

Ainsworth, M. D. S.; Blehar, M. C.; Waters, E.; and Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Arnett, J. J. (2000). "Emerging Adulthood." American Psychologist 55:469–480.

Baumrind, D. (1971). "Current Patterns of Parental Authority." Developmental Psychology Monograph 4 (1, Pt. 2):1–103.

Bell, R. Q. (1968). "A Reinterpretation of the Direction of Effects in Studies of Socialization." Psychological Review 75:81–95.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bugental, D. B., and Goodnow, J. J. (1998). "Socialization Processes." In Social, Emotional, and Personality Development, ed. N. Eisenberg. Vol. 3: Handbook of Child Psychology, 5th edition. New York: Wiley.

Harris, J. R. (1995). "Where Is the Child's Environment? A Group Socialization Theory of Development." Psychological Review 102:458–489.

Human Rights Watch. (1999). Spare the Child: Corporal Punishment in Kenyan Schools. New York: Author.

Khan, M. A., and Khanum, P. A. (2000). "Influence of Son Preference on Contraceptive Use in Bangladesh." Asia-Pacific Population Journal 15:43–56.

Konner, M. (1991). Childhood. Boston: Little, Brown.

Main, M., and Solomon, J. (1990). "Procedure for Identifying Infants as Disorganized/Disoriented during the Ainsworth Strange Situation." In Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research, and Intervention, ed. M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, and E. M. Cummings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Parke, R. D., and Buriel, R. (1998). "Socialization in the Family: Ethnic and Ecological Perspectives." In Social, Emotional, and Personality Development, ed. N. Eisenberg. Vol. 3: Handbook of Child Psychology, 5th edition. New York: Wiley.

Pillemer, K., and McCartney, K., eds. (1991). Parent-Child Relations throughout Life. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Peterson, G. W., and Haan, D. (1999). "Socializing Children and Parents in Families." In Handbook of Marriage and Family, 2nd edition, ed. M. B. Sussman, S. K. Steinmetz, and G. W. Peterson. New York: Plenum.

Peterson, G. W., and Rollins, B. C. (1987). "Parent-Child Socialization." In Handbook of Marriage and the Family, ed. M. B. Sussman and S. K. Steinmetz. New York: Plenum.

Reese, H. W. (1991). "Contextualism and Developmental Psychology." Advances in Child Development and Behavior 23:187–230.

Reese, H. W., and Overton, W. F. (1970). "Models of Development and Theories of Development." In Life-Span Developmental Psychology, ed. L. R. Goulet and P. B. Baltes. New York: Academic Press.

Thomas, A., and Chess, S. (1977). Temperament and Development. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

van IJzendoorn, M. H., and Kroonenberg, P. M. (1988). "Cross-Cultural Patterns of Attachment: A Meta-Analysis of the Strange Situation." Child Development 59:147–156.

Wapner, S. (1993). "Parental Development: A Holistic, Developmental Systems-Oriented Perspective." In Parental Development, ed. J. Demick, K. Bursik, and R. DiBiase. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodSocialization - Unidirectional Models Of Socialization, Other Models Of Socialization, Conclusion