According to the latest socioeconomic studies, the way mothers perceive themselves and their social status has a direct effect on the cognitive development of their child. The first studies of this kind date back to the 1950′s and these linked the socioeconomic factors like education and income of the parents to the brain function and the achievements of children.

Maternal Social Self Perception vs. Stress Related Children Issues

The Latest Study

The researchers have found that the mothers who thought that they had a low social status had higher chances of having high cortisol levels, which indicates stress.

In the same time their hippocampus was less active which is responsible for long term memory and for stress reduction.

What do the Authors have to Say?

The authors claim that it is undeniable that there are major differences between people regarding education and social status. Their findings suggest that the perception of a mother regarding her social status “lives” in her baby. 38 children took part in the study. They gave saliva samples for cortisol level measurement and some of them also had MRIs. The mothers were asked to fill out a form and rate their social standing.

The Results

It was interesting to find that the ratings the mothers gave themselves regarding their social status were also predictors of their child’s cortisol levels. We have to add that similar results were achieved in case of animal studies as well. In this case the cortisol levels were an indicator of the mother’s hierarchical standing.


The way a mother perceives her social status also has an influence on the hippocampal activity of their child when they are learning. On the other hand, the researchers didn’t find any evidence regarding a possible connection between the income-to-needs or education ratio and the cortisol levels.

Social Situations

We all know that people have different socioeconomic situations, but they have different perceptions of their own situation. From the children’s point of view the most important factor is the way that they parents adapt to their socioeconomic status.

Future Studies

In order to reach more conclusive results, the specialists believe that there is need for more extensive researches. At the moment the specialists are taking part in a larger US based study regarding child poverty to find connections between socioeconomic factors and cognitive function.

Since these are aspects that affect everybody, all parents should consider their perception about their social status and the way this affects their children.