Understanding Character Virtue Formation in Early Childhood and the Role of Parental Character Virtues and Cognitions in Promoting Children’s Character Virtues in the High-Risk, Low-Income Setting of Tanzania

TWCF0507

Director: Respichius Deogratias Mitti

Institution: E.D.I. Limited

Can scientists identify character virtues in early childhood, and how are early virtues knit with children’s other socio-emotional and cognitive skills? What do mothers know about character virtues, and how do mothers promote them in their young children? What are culturally relevant character virtues in Tanzania?

Developmental studies of character virtues (CV) tend to focus on adolescents. Despite the documented importance of a person’s early years as a formative period, the emergence of character virtues is under-researched. Moreover, most studies have taken place in high-income settings. There is, then, a need to expand our understanding of CV development to low- and middle-income settings.

This project will study the emergence (and eventual development) of character virtues in the first years of life and how parents socialize CVs in their young children. It will explore these developmental and parenting processes in a high-risk, low-resource setting, Tanzania.

The project hypothesizes that measurable characteristics in young children anticipate acknowledged Tanzania CVs, that mothers’ CVs play a vital role in their children’s CV development, and that CV formation in Tanzania follows culturally specific developmental pathways.

To address these questions, the Tanzania research team will:

  1. adapt existing CV measures and design new culturally and developmentally appropriate measures of mothers’ understanding of CVs and factors that influence CV development;
  2. study CVs in 210 mothers, observing their interactions with their children for manifestations of CVs in children and expressions of CV support in mothers; and
  3. validate these measures and relate them to other characteristics in children.

This study will yield robust and actionable insights into character virtue formation and promotion, promising to bring the implementation of CV development to a national scale.

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