Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What finding out a child's sex before birth says about a mother

Date:
June 2, 2014
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
An expectant mother who chooses to find out her child’s sex before birth may be giving subtle clues about her views on proper gender roles, new research suggests. A new study found that women who choose not to learn their child’s sex may be more open to new experiences, and combine egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society with conscientiousness.

“We don’t know this for sure yet, but expectant mothers’ choice on whether to find out their baby’s sex may show gender role attitudes that will shape how they raise their children,” says the lead author of the study.
Credit: Marion Wear / Fotolia

An expectant mother who chooses to find out her child’s sex before birth may be giving subtle clues about her views on proper gender roles, new research suggests.

The study found that women who choose not to learn their child’s sex may be more open to new experiences, and combine egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society with conscientiousness.

On the other hand, expectant mothers who scored high on a test of parenting perfectionism were more likely than others to learn their baby’s sex.

“These results suggest women who choose not to learn their baby’s sex may not worry about having clothes, toys and colors for their child that match traditional gender expectations,” said Letitia Kotila, lead author of the study and a graduate student in human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“We don’t know this for sure yet, but expectant mothers’ choice on whether to find out their baby’s sex may show gender role attitudes that will shape how they raise their children.”

Kotila conducted the study with Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, associate professor, and Claire Kamp Dush, assistant professor, both in human sciences at Ohio State.

The results appear online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences and will be published in a future print edition.

The research involved 182 expectant mothers in Columbus who participated in a study designed to examine experiences and behaviors across the transition to parenthood. About two-thirds of the expectant mothers in this study knew their baby’s sex before birth.

All of the participants took a variety of tests to measure various aspects of their personality, gender role beliefs and expectations related to parenting perfectionism.

Mothers who knew the sex of their child tended to be less educated, have lower household incomes and were less likely to be married than women who did not know.

The strongest effect was found in women who combined egalitarian gender role beliefs (the belief that women and men should share parenting roles) with conscientiousness.

“These women have egalitarian beliefs, but also this personality trait of conscientiousness in which they stick to their beliefs and act on them,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

Participants with this combination of traits were 87 percent less likely than others to know their child’s sex before birth.

“A conscientious, egalitarian expectant mother may want to wait to find out the sex of the baby because she doesn’t want to create an environment that reinforces old gender stereotypes,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

Women who scored high in “openness to experience” – suggesting they were curious and independent -- were also less inclined to learn their baby’s sex.

“These women may be more willing to let their pregnancy unfold naturally and not feel the need for tests to reveal the child’s sex,” Kotila said.

Expectant mothers who scored high in parenting perfectionism – meaning they set unrealistically high standards – were slightly more likely to find out the sex early. More than other expectant mothers, they may think knowing the child’s sex will relieve them of some anxiety during the uncertain pregnancy process, Kotila said.

Schoppe-Sullivan said this study is just a starting point for larger questions about the implications that knowing a child’s sex may have for future parenting.

“If you know ahead of time that you’re having a girl, are you layering on all the pink and purple in a way that is going to push an extremely feminine ideal on your child?” she said.

“This may affect what paths a girl thinks is appropriate, all the way to what kind of careers she considers.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Letitia E. Kotila, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Claire M. Kamp Dush. Boy or girl? Maternal psychological correlates of knowing fetal sex. Personality and Individual Differences, 2014; 68: 195 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.009

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "What finding out a child's sex before birth says about a mother." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602095118.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2014, June 2). What finding out a child's sex before birth says about a mother. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602095118.htm
Ohio State University. "What finding out a child's sex before birth says about a mother." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602095118.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins