Academic Study Examines Gender Differences in How Fathers Treat Their Young Children

A new study led by Jennifer Mascaro an assistant professor in Family and Preventive Medicine at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, finds that the gender of a child influences the brain responses and behavior of fathers relating to their children.

The study examined brain scans of fathers while they interacted with children in real-world settings. The authors observed that fathers tended to engage in more rough play with boys than with girls. When interacting with girls, fathers sang to their children more often and used words associated with emotions and referred more often to body parts.

Dr. Mascaro notes that “when a child cried out or asked for Dad, fathers of daughters responded to that more than did fathers of sons,. We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children.”

Dr. Mascaro is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Emory University.

The article, “Child Gender Influences Paternal Behavior, Language, and Brain Function,” was published in the June 2017 edition of Behavioral Neuroscience, a journal of the American Psychological Association. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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