Age related changes in social reasoning regarding parental domestic roles
Sinno, Stefanie Marie
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The present study investigated age related changes in individuals' understanding of the parental role of caretaker from a social reasoning perspective. The methodology involved administering surveys to children, adolescents, and young adults (N = 300). Four hypothetical scenarios were described, in which the amount of caretaking tasks completed and time spent at work varied by gender of the parent, and individuals' evaluations and reasoning about the situations were assessed. Three additional factors that influence social reasoning about the caretaker were investigated, including, participants' gender attitudes, their perceptions of their parents' working status and division of caretaking, and their expectations for their own future family life. Results showed that individuals' judgments and reasoning about the caretaker role vary based on both the family arrangement and the gender of the parent in the caretaker role. Overall, participants' judged that the better arrangement is for one parent to spend less time at work in order to be the primary caretaker. However, it was also found that regardless of work arrangement, it would be better if the mother was the primary caretaker. There were age related changes in social reasoning about the caretaker role, with an overall increase in recognizing the complexity of family situations and reasoning from a moral perspective. In addition, gender attitudes, perception of parental work status and division of caretaking and expectations for future balance of work and family influenced social reasoning. Those individuals with more egalitarian attitudes, perceptions, and expectations were aware of societal expectations of parents' roles, but were accepting of arrangements that did not match with expectations. Thus, the present study addressed issues about the developmental origins of individuals' understanding of gender equity, gender development, and developmental social cognition. Understanding developmental changes in social reasoning about gender roles is important because it affects choice of future career and educational goals and opportunities.