The current experiment was designed to examine perceptions of employed and unemployed mothers and fathers in the context of Eagly's [(1987) Sex Differences in Social Behavior: A Social-Role Interpretation, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum] social role theory of sex differences in social behavior. Participants, who were students from a private college with a primarily white student body, read a brief description of a mother or father who was employed or had given up employment in order to stay at home with a young child. Reasons for current or previous employment were either financial or for personal fulfillment. As predicted by Eagly's social role theory, participants rated employed mothers and fathers similarly and perceived them to be more agentic and less communal than unemployed mothers and fathers. Approval ratings deteriorated significantly when a father sacrificed financial security for care giving; the same behavior by mothers received high approval. These findings provided evidence of a continuing societal mandate for fathers (and not mothers) to provide financially for their families.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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