Would there be interest in a Special Topic workshop/meeting to discuss the assumptions that underly the growing number of well-funded interventions that are being implemented around the world for both children and caregivers?
Obviously these interventions should be based on trustworthy scientific evidence but — in the light of studies such as Gardner et al. (2019) — it seems that this is often not the case. Some interventions are based almost exclusively on samples of people drawn from WEIRD societies: Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (Henrich et al. 2010). Such research cannot provide results that are representative of the variety and diversity of people and their family and community practices around the world. Other interventions have been based on research designed and/or conducted in ways that are logistically, technically, theoretically, or ethically problematic.
Among interventions about which questions have recently been raised are the Word Gap program (Sperry et al., 2018) and ‘positive parenting’ programs (Morelli et al., 2018).
A workshop/meeting aimed at examining the intellectual, ethical, and political issues in such interventions could bring together interdisciplinary researchers, policymakers and practitioners (especially those working in the global south, often the target of these interventions).
Gardner, F., Leijten, P., Melendez-Torres, G. J., Landau, S., Harris, V., Mann, J., . . . Scott, S. (2019). The earlier the better? Individual participant data and traditional meta-analysis of age effects of parenting interventions. Child Development, 90, 7-19. doi:10.1111/cdev.13138
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83.
Morelli, G., Quinn, N., Chaudhary, N., Vicedo, M., Rosabal-Coto, M., Keller, H. et al. (2018). Ethical challenges of parenting interventions in low-to middle-income countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(1), 5-24.
Sperry, D. E., Sperry, L. L., & Miller, P. J. (2018). Reexamining the verbal environments of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.13072