"Daughter and son: a completely different story"? Gender as a moderator of the relationship between sexism and parental attitudes

Lipowska, MaƂgorzata; Lipowski, Mariusz; Pawlicka, Paulina
July 2016
Health Psychology Report;2016, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p224
Academic Journal
BACKGROUND During childhood, parents are the first and most important individuals who form the base of the content of gender stereotypes in children. A parent's expectations about the extent a child's behaviour should be line with gender stereotypes also depends on the intensity of a parent's sexism. A parent's sexism may be exhibited in parental attitudes. Hence, in our study we analysed the relationship between parental ambivalent sexism and parental attitudes within dyads of mothers and fathers with a special focus on the role of the gender of both parents and children. PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE Two hundred and ninety-four couples of parents of five year - olds (153 girls, 141 boys) participated. The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI) was used to measure levels of sexism, and the Parental Attitudes Scale (SPR) was used to assess parental attitudes. RESULTS In terms of the profile of parental attitudes, regardless of the child's sex, mothers and fathers scored highest for inconsequent and demanding attitudes, and lowest for overprotective and autonomy attitudes. The child's sex is also not important for the overall levels of parents' sexism - fathers exhibit higher levels of hostile sexism in comparison to mothers. Only the mothers' education level is important for levels of sexism - women with higher education exhibited the lowest levels of hostile sexism. The child's sex moderates relationships between parents' sexism and parental attitudes. In the case of mothers of sons, the intensity of benevolent sexism is negatively related to overprotective and demanding attitudes. The more educated the mothers of sons, the more demanding they were. For fathers of sons, the inconsequence attitude increases under the influence of both hostile and benevolent sexism. Among fathers of daughters, hostile sexism strengthens the overprotective attitude, while levels of both benevolent and hostile sexism as well as education influence the autonomy attitude. CONCLUSIONS The gender of both the parents and the child moderates the relationship between sexism and parental attitudes. The role of sexism in shaping the attitude of mothers towards sons is the most prominent - it seems that it guards the 'manliness' of young boys.


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