The Impact of Paternal Childcare on Perceptual Information Processing


Paternal childcare is a predominantly human behaviour rarely observed in other mammals. However, the active involvement in paternal childcare only increased during the last century due to the growing number of women joining the workforce after childbirth. Despite the growing social acceptance of a caregiving father, it is unknown whether becoming a father might shape one’s self-concept, particularly in relation to family members, which subsequently influences the way in which they perceive and process information related to themselves and family members in order to meet the needs of caregiving. The current study investigated this issue using a perceptual matching task. Fathers and controls first learned shape-person associations (e.g., triangle-baby) and then immediately performed a shape-label matching task in which they judged whether shape-label pairings were matched as initially learned. A robust self-bias effect is often observed in the matching task, characterized by faster reaction times and higher accuracy in response to self-related information. Results in the father group showed a lack of self-bias in relation to their baby and their mother, but self-bias was maintained compared to friends and strangers. Moreover, controls demonstrated a robust self-bias over any others (both family and non-family members). The relationship between the changes in self-bias in the father group and relevant real-life behaviour was explored. The data suggested that self-related information no longer received prioritized processing in relation to family members after becoming a father. These findings contribute to current understandings of fatherhood and its impact on the prioritization of perceptual information processing.

Author Information
Mengyin Jiang, Tsinghua University, China
Jie Sui, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2022
Stream: General Psychology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon