Any scientific research has its purpose and goals. An effective scientific research has a considerable scientific merit as it contributes to theory and advances knowledge. This paper will evaluate the scientific merit of the work by Croft, Schmader, Block and Baron (2014). This study explores the way gender stereotypes are developed within families. Croft et al. (2014) examined the way parents’ behaviors, as well as explicit and implicit beliefs, affected their children’s behavior (related to gender roles) and professional aspirations.
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The researchers hypothesized that parents’ views on gender roles as well as their stereotypes would be adopted by their children. Croft et al. (2014) found that children often shared their parents’ views on gender roles, but the researchers stressed that girls’ views were more shaped by their fathers’ behaviors and beliefs. Thus, if fathers had egalitarian views and completed household tasks, girls shared egalitarian beliefs and were interested in working outside their future households. At that, fathers’ egalitarian behavior did not have a meaningful effect on their sons’ views. Croft et al. (2014) conclude that proportionate or, at least, more egalitarian distribution of household labor can lead to the reduction of gender stereotypes and the development of egalitarian views in future generations.
This paper includes an analysis of the scientific merit of the study mentioned above. The contribution to theory and knowledge advancement will be evaluated. The paper also includes the assessment of the study’s methodology, reliability as well as ethical issues. Some conclusions concerning the future research concerning gender stereotypes are also provided.
Advancing the Knowledge Base
It is necessary to note that the study in question advances the knowledge base in a number of ways. First, it contributes to the field of psychology associated with gender stereotypes development. Croft et al. (2014) provide evidence supporting the view that children adopt their parents’ stereotypes. Their findings are consistent with other studies on the matter. For instance, Endendijk et al. (2013) stress that the correlation between parents’ and their children’s stereotypes is very strong. The scientific merit of the study in question is evident as the researchers provide more data to support certain assumptions.
Apart from providing particular quantitative data supporting the assumption, Croft et al. (2014) extend the scope of knowledge on the matter. Thus, researchers often focus on the way stereotypes are manifested in such domains as social life, professional aspirations, careers, social roles distribution (Endendijk et al., 2013; Steinfeldt, Wong, Hagan, Hoag & Steinfeldt, 2011). Such domains as peer relationships, parent-child relationships, self-acceptance and self-development also have received considerable attention (Perez, 2012).
Croft et al. (2014) reveal the way household labor distribution, as well as explicit and implicit beliefs of parents, affect their children and the development of gender stereotypes in them. The researchers reveal a vivid correlation between the distribution of household duties and children’s (as well as parents’) views on gender roles. Observing the way parents share household duties, children form their views on the behavioral patterns that transform into their views on the distribution of gender roles in other spheres.
Another significant advancement is the findings concerning the correlation between fathers’ and children’s’ beliefs concerning gender roles. Endendijk et al. (2013) claim that boys are less prone to share their parents’ views on gender while girls are more affected by their mothers’ behaviors and beliefs. Croft et al. (2014) also found that the correlation between boys’ and their parents’ views and behaviors is limited, but girls’ perspectives are shaped by their fathers’ behaviors as well as beliefs.
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This shows that boys form their gender-related beliefs based on various factors including but not confined to their parents’ perspectives. At that, it is clear that egalitarian views and behavioral patterns of fathers make girls more confident, and they adopt egalitarian views as well.
Contributions to Theories
Apart from extending the scope of knowledge on the matter, the study in question also contributes to theory. Croft et al. (2014) employ two theories when implementing their research. These theories are social role theory and social learning theory. The social role theory holds it that, historically, women have received less relevant social roles due to the development of the patriarchal society (Berscheid & Regan, 2016). Women are often seen as passive and submissive while males are active and superior in the social context. Women are assigned household tasks while males work outside the home. According to the social learning theory, children adopt the behavioral patterns they observe, and parents are the primary role models for them (Berscheid & Regan, 2016).
On the one hand, Croft et al. (2014) contribute to theory by providing quantitative data supporting the basic provisions of the theories mentioned above. Thus, the researchers found that females shared the stereotypic view on gender roles in many cases. On the other hand, the results of the study in question suggest that the social learning theory is not totally applicable when it comes to gender roles. It is possible to put a number of questions.
Thus, fathers seem to have a more significant influence on girls than mothers do (Croft et al., 2014). At the same time, previous studies show that mothers have a considerable impact on the development of their daughters’ beliefs (Endendijk et al., 2013). It is essential to understand the reason for the different results reported. It is possible that the distribution of household duties is one of the factors that affect the degree of parental influence. Importantly, Croft et al. (2014) also found that boys’ and their parents’ beliefs concerning gender roles have a limited correlation, which is inconsistent with the theory of social learning implying that parents are primary models for their children. It is clear that the theory has certain gaps that have to be filled.
Description and Evaluation of the Data Collection Procedures
To evaluate the scientific merit of a study, it is important to evaluate the methodology used. The data collection and analysis procedures contribute to the scientific merit of the study. The researchers recruited 326 children and 344 parents. The mean age of the children was 9.34 years and parents’ mean age was 43 years (Croft et al., 2014). Girls constituted 47% of the children while 59% of the adult participants were females.
The participants were approached at a science center. The samples were divided into parent-child dyads (father- and mother-child dyads). The researchers aimed at identifying the perceptions of parents and their children, and, hence, the data collection procedures are relevant to the study as well as the methodology chosen.
The researchers employed computerized measures. The participants took Implicit Association Tests (IAT), answered some open-ended questions and carried out some matching tasks (Croft et al., 2014). The tests and tasks were related to such areas as parental household duties distribution, parental work-family balance, children’s professional aspirations. These data collection instruments are consistent with the quantitative research approach as the researchers are interested in measuring particular trends rather than identifying them.
It is also important to note that one of the research goals was to identify the correlation between parents’ and their children’s beliefs. Thus, the use of parent-child dyads is efficient as perspectives of the groups under consideration can be identified. The self-reporting method enabled the researchers to identify implicit and explicit beliefs of the samples.
As has been mentioned above, the quantitative research approach is utilized. This framework is relevant for measuring various trends and phenomena existing in the society (Leedy & Ormrod, 2012). Tests and matching tasks can be regarded as effective instruments that can be employed to achieve the goals set. The researchers obtained precise numeric data that unveiled the existing correlations. Importantly, the researchers were interested in the way the participants saw gender roles. The matching tasks used are suitable for this purpose. The participants revealed their views on the distribution of gender roles within the household and in larger social contexts.
It is also necessary to add that the correlational research design chosen is also appropriate for addressing the research questions. Croft et al. (2014) manage to unveil the correlation between parental views and their children’s beliefs. The correlation is vivid when it comes to girls. As has been mentioned above, the researchers identify quite an intriguing trend concerning boys’ perceptions. Thus, it is clear that boys do not simply copy their parents’ views on gender roles, but other factors come into play. The absence of the correlation between parental behavior and boys’ perspectives on gender role is an important finding that may help understand factors affecting boys’ development.
Validity and Reliability
Another evidence of the study’s significant scientific merit is associated with its reliability and validity. The researchers were interested in the way parental behaviors related to the household labor distribution affected their children’s perspectives. Therefore, the choice of full families contributes to the validity of the research as one-parent families could display other patterns. Furthermore, the sample size (670 participants) is quite sufficient to draw reliable conclusions.
At that, the study could be improved if it had a larger sample size. Croft et al. (2014) addressed gender-related bias as they recruited almost an equal number of female and male participants. As for the ethnicity-related bias, the ethnicity of participants is not described in detail. Croft et al. (2014) stated that 66% of the participants were Caucasian, but the ethnicity of the rest of samples is not clear. This poses some threats to the reliability of the results. For instance, African American or Asian American families could have a different perspective on gender role distribution due to cultural or social aspects.
It is also necessary to note that the methodology used contributes to the reliability of the study. The researchers employed IAT tests that proved to be effective for measuring associations. Croft et al. (2014) managed to identify gender-related beliefs the participants had with the help of these tests. Through choosing items associated with males and females, the participants unveiled their implicit beliefs and gender stereotypes. The researchers also asked children about their future careers. The analysis of free responses to a simple question concerning the children’s professional aspirations is quite appropriate for addressing the research questions.
However, the reliability can be questioned as it is not explicitly stated that children’s professional aspirations are inspired by their parents’ career paths. As has been mentioned above, the social learning theory is used as the theoretical framework, but it is clear that it has certain gaps when it comes to gender issues. Hence, children could choose the professions based on their role models found in media or at school and so on. Furthermore, there is a risk that children could miscomprehend the task, which could have an adverse effect on the results’ reliability.
One of the major threats to the external validity is related to the setting. Thus, the participants completed tests in a specific test room or online (Croft et al., 2014). In both cases, the environment was quite specific, and the participants knew they were taking part in a study. Thus, their answers could be affected, especially when it came to adults’ answers concerning their views on gender roles distributions. They could be willing to display more egalitarian (or vice versa, patriarchal) views to be associated with some group of people (for example, those sharing family values accepted in their community).
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It is necessary to note that one of the most important aspects of ethics of the social research has been met. The balance of harm and benefit is this premise of an ethical research (Iphofen, 2016). The study in question does not inflict any harm on the participants, but can have certain benefit for them as they will understand themselves better. Clearly, the benefit of the research for the knowledge base is significant.
It is necessary to add that the issues of ethics are poorly described in the article in question. The researchers only mention that they obtained consent concerning the participation in the study. Iphofen (2016) emphasize that the research involving children needs specific attention and precision. It is crucial to make sure that children’s rights are met, and their parents’ decisions are based on their children’s needs and wants. It can be challenging to make sure that children fully understand what is required and what is expected of them (Iphofen, 2016). However, Croft et al. (2014) provide no data on this matter, which is quite a significant issue. The researchers also fail to mention confidentiality and anonymity measures they undertook, which may lead to some ethical concerns.
Overall Scientific Merit of the Study
Irrespective of some insignificant imperfections associated with ethics and reliability, the study in question has a significant scientific merit. As has been mentioned above, it extends the scope of knowledge concerning gender stereotypes. Croft et al. (2014) provide evidence that supports an assumption that parental gender-related beliefs affect their children’s perspectives. Importantly, the researchers stress that boys are less prone to the parental influence when it comes to professional aspirations. Croft et al. (2014) assume that factors other than parental influence form boys’ career choices.
The findings unveil the new area to be researched in detail. It is also necessary to add that the researchers link the distribution of household duties and children’s views on gender roles. It is clear that equal parental input into household labor positively affects the development of girls who feel more confident and are ready to actively participate in the social life. However, the same trend is not apparent in boys.
The contribution to the development of theory is also substantial. The findings concerning the boys’ professional aspirations reveal the gaps in the theory of social learning. It is clear that parents are not the primary models when it comes to professional aspirations as well as gender stereotypes. Croft et al. (2014) assume that media, school, and other factors can be more influential. Although the researchers do not develop a new theory, they unveil certain gaps and inconsistencies in the well-established framework, which will inevitably result in the development of the paradigm mentioned.
The scientific merit is also manifested through the methodology used. The quantitative research approach ensures the reliability of data. There is no bias associated with interpretation, which is a characteristic feature of the qualitative design. The researchers provide quantifiable and generalizable data on the matter. Apart from obtaining reliable data, the scientific merit of the study consists in the use of valid instruments. The study in question proves the efficiency of IAT tests. This instrument of the quantitative research approach is associated with quite convenient data collection and analysis. It is also clear that these tests can be employed to measure people’s gender bias. Adults and children equally well cope with the tasks, which is important for the social research as well.
As has been mentioned above, the study is associated with some limitations. These include some ethical concerns as well as some threat to the validity of the research. The sampling process is characterized by some imperfections. Nonetheless, these gaps do not undermine the scientific merit of the study. The research is characterized by major hallmarks of the effective study. The researchers employ sound methodology and proper theoretical framework. The study also unveils some gaps in theory and extend the scope of knowledge on the matter. The researchers reveal possible areas to focus on in the future research.
On balance, it is possible to note that the study in question has a significant scientific merit as it has major hallmarks of the effective research and contributes to the knowledge base and theory. The researchers manage to support well-established theories and unveil some gaps that are yet to be filled. This study could be improved through the use of a larger sample that is more diverse in terms of ethnicity. The researchers could also pay more attention to ethical issues. Nonetheless, it is possible to note that the study in question can be regarded as an illustration of an effective research. Novice researchers can follow the structure of the article, utilize the methodology and theoretical framework used. Researchers also can try to fill in the gaps identified.
The further steps to undertake can be the identification of the factors that affect boys’ development associated with gender issues. Another correlational study can help identify these factors and the degree of their influence. It can also be important to explore the parental influence on adolescents. A similar study can involve adolescents at the age between 13 and 16. This research can help identify the factors other than parental behavior that have an impact on younger generations.
Berscheid, E.S., & Regan, P.C. (2016). Psychology of interpersonal relationships. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Croft, A., Schmader, T., Block, K., & Baron, A.S. (2014). The second shift reflected in the second generation: Do parents’ gender roles at home predict children’s aspirations? Psychological Science, 1-14. Web.
Endendijk, J.J., Groeneveld, M.G., Van Berkel, S.R., Hallers-Haalboom, E.T., Mesman, J. & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. (2013). Gender stereotypes in the family context: Mothers, fathers, and siblings. Sex Roles, 68, 577-590. Web.
Iphofen, R. (2016). Ethical decision making in social research: A practical guide. New York, NY: Springer.
Leedy, P.D., & Ormrod, J.E. (2012). Practical research: Planning and Design. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Perez, J.A. (2012). Gender difference in psychological well-being among Filipino college student samples. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(13), 84-93. Web.
Steinfeldt, J.A., Wong, Y.J., Hagan, A.R., Hoag, J.M., & Steinfeldt, M.C. (2011). A contextual examination of gender role conflict among college football players. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 12(4), 311-323. Web.