The discrepancy between sensitivity beliefs and sensitive parenting behaviors of ethnic majority and ethnic minority mothers

Hatice Ekmekci, Maike Malda, Sengul Yagmur, Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Judi Mesman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this study was to test the relation between sensitivity beliefs and sensitive behaviors in Dutch ethnic majority and Turkish ethnic minority mothers. Sixty mothers, 30 in the Dutch and 30 in the Turkish group, with a child between the ages of 2 and 5 years participated. Sensitivity belief scores were derived by correlating the Maternal Behaviour Q-Sort (Pederson, Moran, & Bento, 1999), the expertderived profile of the highly sensitive mother, with mothers' beliefs about the ideal mother. For observed sensitive behaviors, mothers and children were observed in a free play situation with the Emotional Availability Scales (Biringen, 2008). Dutch mothers scored higher on sensitivity beliefs and sensitive behaviors than Turkish mothers, and this relation between ethnicity and sensitivity (beliefs and behaviors) was not mediated by socioeconomic status (SES). Sensitivity beliefs were not related to sensitive behaviors in either group, and ethnicity and SES did not moderate this association. Further investigation of the relation between sensitivity beliefs and sensitive behaviors could inform interventions on how to translate improved parenting beliefs into improvements in parenting practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Behavioural Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Behavior
  • Beliefs
  • Ethnic minority
  • Maternal sensitivity
  • Socioeconomic status

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