Researchers Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia released a new study about the interaction and relationships between fathers and daughters. In the study published in Behavioral Neuroscience, Jennifer S. Mascaro and her team found that fathers with toddler daughters were more attentive than fathers with toddler sons. The difference was apparent when the researchers examined the interactions between fathers and their children; this included how they spoke to their kids and how they played with them.
According to Tech Times, fathers with little girls spent about 60 more times responding than those fathers with little boys. The fathers and daughters spent more time “whistling and singing” and talking more about emotions. Fathers with little boys, however, spent their time roughhousing with their sons. Also, the researchers found that the fathers used words as “win,” “best,” and “proud” when describing their sons’ achievement.
Using MRI scans, Mascaro and her team discovered that the fathers with daughters saw areas of the fathers brains were “lit up more” when shown images of children with various expressions. Those areas of the brains were “associated with reward and emotion.” Mascaro’s team did not have an explanation why fathers treated their daughters and sons differently. There unsure if the fathers’ brains were “hardwired through evolution or genetics” to treat their children differently based on gender norms.
According to the study published in Behavioral Neuroscience, Mascaro and her team interviewed and observed 52 fathers with 22 boys and 30 girls. The team gave each father a small device that clipped to their clothing and wore it for 48 hours on one weekday and one weekend. The device, the researchers said, would turn on at random times during the day to “record sound,” Building a Better World News reported. TIME indicated that using the recordings, the researchers “coded the types of words and behavior” the fathers used with their children.
This treatment may influence their children’s personalities. When observing fathers and daughters, the researchers suggested that girls may grow into adulthood with “more empathy” than a boy, Tech Times reported. The fathers with daughters went on to state that using language associated with the body could lead to body image problems related to girls than boys. Fathers with boys may also be “less attentive” to their sons emotional needs leading their sons to develop a lack of “social intimacy and depression.”
More research must be done to confirm Mascaro’s findings. Mascaro said that “validating emotions is good for everyone – not just daughters.”
By Cheryl Werber