Sex differences in responsiveness to babies among mature adults

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Interest in babies, a feminine sex-typed behavior, was assessed in 30 parents of adolescents, 28 parents whose grown children were no longer living at home, and 26 grandparents of an infant. Measures included responsivity to an unfamiliar baby in a waiting room situation, interest in pictures of babies, and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Contrasting expectations of the course of male vs female reactions to babies are suggested by trait theory, sociobiology, and a functional-based role theory of sex differences. Across a variety of indices, grandparents demonstrated more interest in babies than did the other parent groups. Grandmothers were more sensitive to the baby's elicitations than grandfathers. The stage-of-life findings and sex differences support a functional-based role theory, that is, sex differences serve a function at the time they are manifested. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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