Is there really such a thing as daddy’s girl? A study proves there is.
The study collected behavioural data from 52 fathers of toddlers (30 girls and 22 boys) in Atlanta, who agreed to wear an electronic activated recorder (EAR), which are clipped onto their belts, for one weekday and one weekend day.
The device randomly turned on for 50 seconds every nine minutes to record any ambient sound during the 48-hour period.
The participants also underwent functional MRI brain scans while viewing photos of an unknown adult, an unknown child and their own child with happy, sad or neutral facial expressions.
Jennifer Mascaro, who led the research, said that fathers easily responded to their daughters than their sons.
“When a child cried out or asked for Dad, fathers of daughters responded to that more than did fathers of sons,” she said.
The research shows that ideas about gender unconsciously influence the way people treat others even when they’re very young children. “We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children,” Ms Mascaro said.
Fathers are also more likely to sing to their daughters and use words associated with their body such as ‘belly,’ ‘cheek,’ ‘face,’ ‘fat’ and ‘feet,’ while fathers of sons engage in more rough-and-tumble play with their child and use language related to power and achievement – words such as ‘best,’ ‘win,’ ‘super’ and ‘top.’
However, it is not clear whether these differences are due to biological and evolutionary underpinnings, cultural understandings of the way one should act, or both.
“Most parents really are trying to do the best they can for their children. We need to do more research to try to understand if these subtle differences may have important effects in the long term,” Dr Mascaro said.