Population variation in children's behavioral symptomatology

Alexandra A. Brewis, David Piñeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Previous anthropological studies identified significant interpopulation consistencies in the frequency and symptoms of adult depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Tests of the degree of variation of such behavioral phenomena across contemporary populations are significant for the study of human evolution because universality or near universality suggests specific evolved aspects of human behavior. The aim of this research was to provide a preliminary test of whether cross-cultural consistencies in symptomatology associated with some psychiatric conditions are observable in children as they are in adults. We tested for interpopulation variation in degrees (intensity and frequency) of anxiety, depression, withdrawal, and somatization symptomatology in normal samples of children. Psychometric ratings scales allowed assessment of characteristic symptomatology of each child in the different contexts of home and school. The study populations comprised 1,208 6-11-year-old children from the Paisa community in Antioquia, Colombia, and African-American, Euro-American, and Hispanic children in the United States. We found interpopulation consistencies in some aspects of child behavioral symptomatology, especially depression and withdrawal. Mean degrees of symptomatology and percentages of children with clinically significant levels of symptomatology were consistent for both across populations, in home and school contexts, and for both girls and boys. Anxiety and somatization displayed more cross-cultural variability in expression. These patterns are in accordance with current understandings of cross-cultural variability and universals of adult psychiatric symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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