Role of the father studies


Grossman (2002)

Aim:  To investigate both the parent behaviour and its relationship to the quality of the children’s attachment into their teens. 

Method: He investigated the parents’ behaviour when the children were infants and then later the quality of these children’s attachments in their teens.

Results: The quality of infants' attachments with their mothers but not fathers was related to the quality of attachments in their teenage years. 

The quality of fathers that PLAY with the infants was related to their quality of their teenage attachments.

Conclusion: Fathers have a different role in attachments, one to do more with play and stimulation and less to do with nurture.

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Field (1978)

Aim: To investigate what happens when fathers take on the role of being the main caregiver.

Method: Filmed 4 month old babies in face-to-face interaction with primary caregiver mothers, secondary caregiver fathers and primary caregiver fathers. Primary caregiver fathers spent more time smiling, imitating and holding infants than the secondary caregiver father.

Results: This behaviour appears to be more important in building attachments with an infant

Conclusion:  This suggests that fathers are able, if required, to take on the more caring, nurturing role usually associated with the mother, therefore the key to attachment is the level of responsiveness, not the gender of the parent.

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Role of the father evaluation

Inconsistent findings - some studies showing fathers have a nurturing role, some suggesting they have a different role. Therefore, it is hard to make a conclusion on what the role of the father is.
MacCallum and Golombok (2004) found that children growing up in single-parent or same-sex families do not develop any differently from those who grow up in more ‘conventional’ families, suggesting that the role of the father is not significant in attachment.
Gender roles- men are typically not ‘allowed’ to be nurturing due to traditional gender roles, female hormones - oestrogen, allows women to create higher levels of nurturing, implying that women are biologically inclined to be primary attachment.

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