Raised this way

Kevin Lewis

December 08, 2015

Parental beliefs about the fixedness of ability

Katherine Muenks et al.
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, November–December 2015, Pages 78–89

The present studies examined whether parents' beliefs about the fixedness of ability predict their self-reported interactions with their children. Parents' fixedness beliefs were measured at two levels of specificity: their general beliefs about intelligence and their beliefs about their children's math and verbal abilities. Study 1, conducted with an online sample of 300 parents, showed that the more parents believed that abilities were fixed, the more likely they were to endorse controlling and performance-oriented behaviors and the less likely they were to endorse autonomy-supportive and mastery-oriented behaviors. Study 2, conducted with 86 parents from a university database, partially replicated the results of Study 1 and also showed that parents' beliefs predicted the self-reported frequency with which they engaged in math- and reading-related activities with their children at home. Specifically, the more parents believed that abilities were fixed, the less frequently they reported engaging in math- and reading-related activities.


Household chaos and children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development in early childhood: Does childcare play a buffering role?

Daniel Berry et al.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Winter 2016, Pages 115–127

Evidence suggests that household chaos is associated with less optimal child outcomes. Yet, there is an increasing indication that children’s experiences in childcare may buffer them against the detrimental effects of such environments. Our study aims were to test: (1) whether children’s experiences in childcare mitigated relations between household chaos and children’s cognitive and social development, and (2) whether these (conditional) chaos effects were mediated by links between chaos and executive functioning. Using data from The Family Life Project (n = 1235) — a population-based sample of families from low-income, rural contexts — our findings indicated that household disorganization in early childhood was predictive of worse cognitive and social outcomes at approximately age five. However, these relations were substantially attenuated for children attending greater childcare hours. Subsequent models indicated that the conditional associations between household disorganization and less optimal outcomes at age five were mediated by conditional links between disorganization and less optimal executive functioning.


Authoritarian parenting attitudes and social origin: The multigenerational relationship of socioeconomic position to childrearing values

Michael Friedson
Child Abuse & Neglect, forthcoming

Support for authoritarian approaches to parenting, including corporal punishment, is known to be elevated among individuals with low current levels of socioeconomic attainment. The objectives of this study are: (1) to determine whether authoritarian parenting dispositions are related to disadvantages in one's social background, in addition to one's present socioeconomic standing; and (2) to distinguish, in this regard, between support for spanking and other authoritarian parenting dispositions. Ordered logit models, applied to General Social Survey data concerning a nationally representative sample of US adults, are used to examine relationships of authoritarian parenting dispositions to the socioeconomic positions that respondents currently occupy and in which they were raised. It is found that support for spanking (N = 10,725) and valuing of obedience (N = 10,043) are inversely related to the socioeconomic status (SES) of one's family of origin, and that these associations are robust to controls for one's current SES. A disadvantaged family background is found to increase support for spanking most among those with high current SES. Strong associations (robust to controls for SES indicators) are additionally found between African-American racial identity and support for authoritarian parenting. Prior research indicates that authoritarian parenting practices such as spanking may be harmful to children. Thus, if the parenting attitudes analyzed here translate into parenting practices, then this study's findings may point to a mechanism for the intergenerational transmission of disadvantages.


Don’t Aim Too High for Your Kids: Parental Overaspiration Undermines Students’ Learning in Mathematics

Kou Murayama et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous research has suggested that parents’ aspirations for their children’s academic attainment can have a positive influence on children’s actual academic performance. Possible negative effects of parental overaspiration, however, have found little attention in the psychological literature. Employing a dual-change score model with longitudinal data from a representative sample of German school children and their parents (N 3,530; Grades 5 to 10), we showed that parental aspiration and children’s mathematical achievement were linked by positive reciprocal relations over time. Importantly, we also found that parental aspiration that exceeded their expectation (i.e., overaspiration) had negative reciprocal relations with children’s mathematical achievement. These results were fairly robust after controlling for a variety of demographic and cognitive variables such as children’s gender, age, intelligence, school type, and family socioeconomic status. The results were also replicated with an independent sample of U.S. parents and their children. These findings suggest that unrealistically high parental aspiration can be detrimental for children’s achievement.


Genetic and Environmental Parent–Child Transmission of Value Orientations: An Extended Twin Family Study

Christian Kandler, Juliana Gottschling & Frank Spinath
Child Development, forthcoming

Despite cross-cultural universality of core human values, individuals differ substantially in value priorities, whereas family members show similar priorities to some degree. The latter has often been attributed to intrafamilial socialization. The analysis of self-ratings on eight core values from 399 twin pairs (ages 7–11) and their biological parents (388 mothers, 249 fathers; ages 26–65) allowed the disentanglement of environmental from genetic transmission accounting for family resemblance in value orientations. Results indicated that parent–child similarity is primarily due to shared genetic makeup. The primary source of variance in value priorities represented environmental influences that are not shared by family members. These findings do not provide evidence for parental influences beyond genetic influences contributing to intrafamilial similarity in value priorities.


Double Take: The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Schooling, Earnings, and Labor Supply

Moiz Bhai
University of Illinois Working Paper, November 2015

Understanding the role of the family in the production of human capital is a salient question in economics. Using a twin research design that exploits exogenous gender variation in dizygotic twins, this paper credibly identifies the effect of sibling sex composition on schooling, earnings, and labor supply. Women born with a male co-twin have higher earnings, schooling, and labor force participation than women born with a female co-twin. Men born with a female co-twin, on the other hand, have outcomes that are statistically indistinguishable from zero. Family attributes provide a limited explanation of the sex composition effect.


Gene–environment interaction between the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and parenting behaviour on children’s theory of mind

Mark Wade, Thomas Hoffmann & Jennifer Jenkins
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, December 2015, Pages 1749-1757

Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to interpret and understand human behaviour by representing the mental states of others. Like many human capacities, ToM is thought to develop through both complex biological and socialization mechanisms. However, no study has examined the joint effect of genetic and environmental influences on ToM. This study examined how variability in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and parenting behavior — two widely studied factors in ToM development — interacted to predict ToM in pre-school-aged children. Participants were 301 children who were part of an ongoing longitudinal birth cohort study. ToM was assessed at age 4.5 using a previously validated scale. Parenting was assessed through observations of mothers’ cognitively sensitive behaviours. Using a family-based association design, it was suggestive that a particular variant (rs11131149) interacted with maternal cognitive sensitivity on children’s ToM (P = 0.019). More copies of the major allele were associated with higher ToM as a function of increasing cognitive sensitivity. A sizeable 26% of the variability in ToM was accounted for by this interaction. This study provides the first empirical evidence of gene–environment interactions on ToM, supporting the notion that genetic factors may be modulated by potent environmental influences early in development.


A transactional approach to preventing early childhood neglect: The Family Check-Up as a public health strategy

Thomas Dishion et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2015, Pages 1647-1660

This study examined the hypothesis that a brief, strengths-based home visiting strategy can promote positive engagement between caregiver and child and thereby reduce various forms of early childhood neglect. A total of 731 low-income families receiving services through the Women, Infants, and Children nutritional supplement program were randomized to the Women, Infants, and Children as usual or the Family Check-Up intervention. Assessments and intervention services were delivered in the home environment at ages 2, 3, 4, and 5. During the assessments, staff videotaped caregiver–child interactions and rated various features of the home environment, including the physical appropriateness of the home setting for children. Trained observers later coded the videotapes, unaware of the family's intervention condition. Specific caregiver–child interaction patterns were coded and macroratings were made of the caregiver's affection, monitoring, and involvement with the child. An intention to treat design revealed that randomization to the Family Check-Up increased duration of positive engagement between caregivers and children by age 3, which in turn was prognostic of less neglect of the child at age 4, controlling for family adversity. It was also found that family adversity moderated the impact of the intervention, such that the families with the most adverse circumstances were highly responsive to the intervention. Families with the highest levels of adversity exhibited the strongest mediation between positive engagement and reduction of neglect. Findings are discussed with respect to developmental theory and their potential implications for a public health approach to the prevention of early childhood maltreatment.


Using Identity Processes to Understand Persistent Inequality in Parenting

Jessica Collett, Kelcie Vercel & Olevia Boykin
Social Psychology Quarterly, December 2015, Pages 345-364

Despite growing acceptance of a “new fatherhood” urging fathers to be engaged in family life, men’s relative contributions to housework and child care have remained largely stagnant over the past twenty years. Using data from in-depth interviews, we describe how identity processes may contribute to this persistent inequality in parenting. We propose that the specificity of men’s identity standards for the father role is related to role-relevant behavior, and that the vague expectations many associate with “new fatherhood” both contribute to and result from men’s underinvolvement. Consistent with this proposal, we find that while all fathers face difficulty living up to expectations of “new fatherhood,” those with vague identity standards contribute less to carework and are less committed to the father identity, in part because they are less likely to experience self-discrepancy. We outline the implications of our results for future research in identity theory and for understanding inequality in households.


Effects of Economic Hardship: Testing the Family Stress Model Over Time

Tricia Neppl, Jennifer Senia & Brent Donnellan
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

The current study evaluated connections between marital distress, harsh parenting, and child externalizing behaviors in line with predictions from the Family Stress Model (FSM). Prospective, longitudinal data came from 273 mothers, fathers, and children participating when the child was 2, between 3 and 5, and between 6 and 10 years old. Assessments included observational and self-report measures. Information regarding economic hardship and economic pressure were assessed during toddlerhood, and parental emotional distress, couple conflict, and harsh parenting were collected during early childhood. Child externalizing behavior was assessed during both toddlerhood and middle childhood. Results were consistent with predictions from the FSM in that economic hardship led to economic pressure, which was associated with parental emotional distress and couple conflict. This conflict was associated with harsh parenting and child problem behavior. This pathway remained statistically significant controlling for externalizing behavior in toddlerhood.


Social Effects in Employer Learning: An Analysis of Siblings

Neel Rao
Labour Economics, January 2016, Pages 24–36

This paper examines whether wages are based on information about personal contacts. I develop a theory of labor markets with imperfect information in which related workers have correlated abilities. I study wage setting under two alternative processes: individual learning, under which employers observe only a worker’s own characteristics, and social learning, under which employers also observe those of a relative. Using sibling data from the NLSY79, I test for a form of statistical nepotism in which a sibling’s performance is priced into a worker’s wage. Empirically, an older sibling’s test score has a larger impact on a younger sibling’s log wage than a younger sibling’s test score has on an older sibling’s log wage. The estimates provide strong support for social effects in employer learning.


A Longitudinal Examination of Positive Parenting Following an Acceptance-Based Couple Intervention

Melinda Ippolito Morrill, Matt Hawrilenko & James Córdova
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Positive parenting practices have been shown to be essential for healthy child development, and yet have also been found to be particularly challenging for parents to enact and maintain. This article explores an innovative approach for increasing positive parenting by targeting specific positive emotional processes within marital relationships. Couple emotional acceptance is a powerful mechanism that has repeatedly been found to improve romantic relationships, but whether these effects extend to the larger family environment is less well understood. The current longitudinal study examined the impact of improved relational acceptance after a couple intervention on mother’s and father’s positive parenting. Participants included 244 parents (122 couples) in the Marriage Checkup (MC) study, a randomized, controlled, acceptance-based, intervention study. Data indicated that both women and men experienced significantly greater felt acceptance 2 weeks after the MC intervention, treatment women demonstrated greater positive parenting 2 weeks after the intervention, and all treatment participants’ positive parenting was better maintained than control couple’s 6 months later. Importantly, although mothers’ positive parenting was not influenced by different levels of felt acceptance, changes in father’s positive parenting were positively associated with changes in felt acceptance. As men felt more accepted by their wives, their levels of positive parenting changed in kind, and this effect on positive parenting was found to be mediated by felt acceptance 2 weeks after the MC. Overall, findings supported the potential benefits of targeting couple acceptance to generate positive cascades throughout the larger family system.


Long-term consequences of childhood maltreatment: Altered amygdala functional connectivity

Kelly Jedd et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2015, Pages 1577-1589

Childhood maltreatment is a serious individual, familial, and societal threat that compromises healthy development and is associated with lasting alterations to emotion perception, processing, and regulation (Cicchetti & Curtis, 2005; Pollak, Cicchetti, Hornung, & Reed, 2000; Pollak & Tolley-Schell, 2003). Individuals with a history of maltreatment show altered structural and functional brain development in both frontal and limbic structures (Hart & Rubia, 2012). In particular, previous research has identified hyperactive amygdala responsivity associated with childhood maltreatment (e.g., Dannlowski et al., 2012). However, less is known about the impact of maltreatment on the relationship between the amygdala and other brain regions. The present study employed an emotion processing functional magnetic resonance imaging task to examine task-based activation and functional connectivity in adults who experienced maltreatment as children. The sample included adults with a history of substantiated childhood maltreatment (n = 33) and comparison adults (n = 38) who were well matched on demographic variables, all of whom have been studied prospectively since childhood. The maltreated group exhibited greater activation than comparison participants in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia. In addition, maltreated adults showed increased amygdala connectivity with the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The results suggest that the intense early stress of childhood maltreatment is associated with lasting alterations to frontolimbic circuitry.


Paid Family Leave, Fathers' Leave-Taking, and Leave-Sharing in Dual-Earner Households

Ann Bartel et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2015

This paper provides quasi-experimental evidence on the impact of paid leave legislation on fathers’ leave-taking, as well as on the division of leave between mothers and fathers in dual-earner households. Using difference-in-difference and difference-in-difference-in-difference designs, we study California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL) program, which is the first source of government-provided paid parental leave available to fathers in the United States. Our results show that fathers in California are 0.9 percentage points — or 46 percent relative to the pre-treatment mean — more likely to take leave in the first year of their children’s lives when CA-PFL is available. We also examine how parents allocate leave in households where both parents work. We find that CA-PFL increases father-only leave-taking (i.e., father on leave while mother is at work) by 50 percent and joint leave-taking (i.e., both parents on leave at the same time) by 28 percent. These effects are much larger for fathers of sons than for fathers of daughters, and almost entirely driven by fathers of first-born children and fathers in occupations with a high share of female workers.


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