STATES CHRONICLE – A new study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience discovered that fathers are influenced by the gender of their toddler. Those who have daughters exhibit a different behavior and have different brain responses than those who have sons. It seems that they pay more attention to the child’s needs if she is a girl.
Fathers are more open to emotions when it comes to their daughters
Researchers discovered that fathers tend to be more attentive if they have daughters. They are more open to expressing their emotions, as well as engaging in a gentler playtime, including singing and storytelling. When it comes to boys, they are a bit tougher, since they think their sons should grow up less sensitive.
Jennifer Mascaro, the lead author of the study and a professor at Emory University, said that fathers of girls were more likely to respond when their child cried out than fathers of boys. Also, they use a different kind of language.
Fathers use more analytic words with their daughters, which might drive them to earn academic success in the future. On the other hand, they might be a little hard on boys by using achievement-driven language, which should determine them to be more competitive. Therefore, it seems that they are more likely to accept the girls’ feelings than the boys’ feelings.
Unconscious cognitive differences between toddler gender
Besides the different behavior, men also had a different cognitive response regarding their children’s feelings. Brain scans showed that they were more responsive to happy facial expressions on their daughters. The activated areas of the brain were related to visual processing, emotion regulation, and reward.
Researchers explained that that this behavior is not intentional. All these reactions come unconsciously, as they want their children to fit certain social standards. Anthropologist James Rilling explained the phenomenon.
“These biases (…) actually reflect deliberate and altruistically motivated efforts to shape children’s behavior in line with social expectations of adult gender roles that fathers feel may benefit their children.”
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