My research addresses father involvement in families with young children, focusing on multiple levels of influence on a father’s behavior and family relationships, based on hormonal, observational, survey, experimental, and longitudinal methods. Below are summaries of my three primary lines of inquiry.
Fathers’ Hormones and Father-Infant Interaction
We know that fathers’ hormones respond to infant cues, but can a father’s physiological responses influence his parenting behavior? This project examined how fathers’ testosterone responded to seeing his infant in distress and how fathers’ testosterone reactivity predicted his subsequent parenting behavior with his infant.
Gender Beliefs and Family Processes
Parenting roles remain deeply gendered in our society – with women consistently doing more household labor and childcare than men, even when both parents are employed. One reason why parenting roles may be unequally shared is due to gendered beliefs about parenthood. These studies examined whether beliefs influenced coparents’ shared responsibilities (division of labor) and relational quality (cooperation and conflict) across the transition to second-time parenthood.
From goofy Phil Dunphy in Modern Family to deplorable Frank Gallagher on Shameless, television dads are often shown as incompetent dolts, often in comparison to super moms. There is a concern that pervasive images of incompetent fathers may be contributing to a negative view of fathers’ roles within families. This set of studies examines whether greater consumption of television programs featuring fathers is related to beliefs about fathers and whether viewing clips of television fathers also affects these beliefs. Data collection for this study is currently underway. To participate, please visit the “Participate in a Study” page for more information.