Effects of society and culture on parents’ ratings of children’s mental health problems in 45 societies

Leslie A. Rescorla, Robert R. Althoff, Masha Y. Ivanova, Thomas M. Achenbach, Alessandra Frigerio, International ASEBA Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To improve international needs assessment for child mental health services, it is necessary to employ standardized assessment methods that can be easily administered and scored, can be interpreted by practitioners and researchers with various kinds of training, and that perform similarly across many societies. To this end, we tested the effects of both society and culture on parents’ ratings of children’s problems. We used hierarchical linear modeling as well as analyses of variance to analyze parents’ Child Behavior Checklist ratings of 72,493 6- to 16-year-olds from 45 societies. The 45 societies were nested within 10 culture clusters based on the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) taxonomy. Societal differences accounted for 3.8–10.7% of variance in various kinds of problems, while differences between culture clusters (e.g., Anglo vs. Confucian) accounted for 0.1–10.0%. By contrast, differences associated with parents’ ratings of individual children accounted for 85.5–93.3% of variance. Averaged across 17 problem scales, society plus culture cluster accounted for about 10% of the variance in parents’ ratings of children’s problems, whereas individual differences and other possible variables accounted for about 90%. These findings indicate that parents’ standardized ratings can be used to assess effects associated with individual differences in child and adolescent psychopathology, over and above differences associated with societies and culture clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1115
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • CBCL
  • Cross-cultural
  • Individual differences in child psychopathology
  • International epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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