Studies on the Family
Studies on the Family
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Studies on the Family Purpose Studies on the Family was created to encourage students from all disciplines to research and write about the institution of marriage and family. Studies emphasizes the impact that marriage and family have on society and increases awareness of current issues affecting the family.
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Contents Social Scripts and Dating......................................................1 Personality, RelationshipSatisfaction, and Family-to-work Conflict.....................................................11 Fostering Self-Control.................................................... 29 The Effects of Maternal Employment on Child Development.............................................................37
Social Scripts and Dating Alisa Olson
dolescents and young adults have always struggled with how to effectively initiate and form dating relationships. Within the past twenty years, countless books have been published on topics such as “how to date” (Brown, 2006) or “how to marry the man of your choice.” (Kent, 1984). However, the methods by which people of different eras have attempted to enter into and form dating relationships varies drastically (Kuriansky, 2003). An old proverb suggests that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Heeding this age-old advice, my great-grandfather proposed to his wife with the romantic declaration of “will you make my pancakes for me for the rest of my life?” I doubt my great-grandfather’s marriage proposal, though readily accepted a few generations back, would now have much success. Times have changed and along with it the process of dating has changed. This article will explore some of the differences in dating culture in the 1940–60s as compared to 1990–2011. In the earlier decades social scripting played a different role, there were different goals and different values, there were fewer problems and fewer options, and there was an emphasis on steady dating. These factors may have helped to create a culture in the 1950s that facilitated individuals to succeed in the meeting, interacting, and pairing off process. Today, the notion that a woman’s dating success is tied to her ability to cook has largely disappeared from American culture and is now almost laughable (Sayles, 1997). Significant changes in the definition and purpose of dating and the role of social scripts in the past fifty years have greatly
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influenced dating culture (Turner, 2003). We view former dating customs as restrictive, but were they? Are all the changes that have occurred in dating culture in the past sixty years for the best?
The Purpose of Dating
Dating is commonly defined in modern terminology as “a form of human courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse” (Turner, 2003, p. 1). Another definition of dating is “the social process by which two people meet, interact, and pair off as a couple” (p. 1). These definitions emphasize that dating is often seen as a precursory activity culminating in marriage (Turner, 2003). However, people also engage in dating just to “date,” without this end goal in mind. While some consider arranged marriages to be a form of dating, many do not because the suitors in arranged marriages do not have to put forth the effort to “court” and win the affection of the other person (Turner, 2003). Assuming that dating requires initiative and effort of an individual to win another’s affection, dating has not been very prominent in many cultures (Turner, 2003). Instead, many cultures have relied on arranged marriages and other methods to select suitable partners (Turner, 2003). For the purposes of this paper, dating will be defined as the process by which an individual attempts to meet and interact with another person and win that person’s affection with the objective of pairing off. The popularity of the idea that individuals should “win the affections of another person” and “become a pair” began to arise as early as the eleventh century, if not earlier (Cappalanus, 1960). Although many marriages during this time period were arranged for political or social reasons, a concept called “courtly love” became popular (Cappalanus, 1960). The art of “courtly love” was the process by which one could acquire and maintain love for another who, ironically, was typically not his or her spouse (Cappalanus, 1960). At the heart of courtly love centered the concept that individuals desired to form meaningful and at least somewhat lasting relationships with another person (Cappalanus, 1960). As a result of this practice, a series of rules and expectations emerged about how to best win and keep the affections of another (Cappalanus, 1960). In modern culture, the desire to form meaningful and lasting relationships with another person continues to be a prominent reason that
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people date (Turner, 2003, p. 6). There are certainly people who only want a “one night stand” and have little desire for a meaningful, lasting relationship; however, these encounters are typically not defined as “dating.” Instead, “dating” seems to be strongly associated with the desire frequently expressed in pop culture for an individual to engage in and maintain a meaningful relationship with another (Turner, 2003, p. 6). For example, the song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz repeatedly states how lucky each individual is to be in love with his or her best friend and to be “coming home again” to the other person (Mraz, 2009). Each individual expresses their willingness to wait and take the time to develop the relationship. If the most common goal of dating is to form a meaningful and lasting relationship, is our society and culture currently structured in the most effective manner to achieve that objective? Between the years 1990–2000, the median age of marriage for men increased to 26.9 for men and 25.1 for women (Turner, 2003, p. 166). Contrastingly, during the years 1950–1960, the median age of marriage was substantially lower—22.8 for men and 20.3 for women (p. 166). Divorce rates were also substantially lower in the 1950s as opposed to 2000 (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2007, p.4). The reasons for such a dramatic difference in the ability of individuals to enter into and maintain marriage relationships in the 1950s as opposed to the 1990s are complex and varied. However, the more favorable percentages in the 1950s suggest that people knew something about how to successfully meet, interact with, and pair up with others in a way that led to what they perceived to be a meaningful and lasting relationship.
The Role of Social Scripts
A significant difference in the 1950s that appears to have been influential in the forming of dating culture was the prominence of social scripts. A cultural or social script is a “preconception of how one should behave in a social setting” (Turner, 2003, p. 6). It instructs people on “appropriate goals, desirable qualities, and typical behaviors” (p. 6). In the 1950s, the traditional social dating script dictated “that the man initiate courtship behaviors, including asking the women out, covering the financial expenses of the date, and supplying transportation to and from the dating activity” (p. 6). Additionally, the script defined “what sexual behaviors were right or wrong, as well as the level of involvement each partner should have” (p. 6).
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Some more specific examples of culture scripts that were commonly accepted in the 1950s were expressed in Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home (Turner, 2003, p. 6). She states that a gentleman should always rise when a lady comes into the room (Post, 1922, p. 38). Women were warned not to exaggerate fashion too much or wear too short of skirts (p. 38). Dates were to be planned out in advance and a man was expected to call to request a woman’s company. Parents were generally also provided an opportunity to meet the suitor (p. 38). During the 1950s, women always “had their hat on” if a gentleman was expected to make a call (Bailey, 1988, p. 13). The expectation was that a man would take a woman out for a recreational activity and that the man would pay (p. 21–22). Girls who tried to “usurp the right of boys to choose their own dates” were considered to “ruin a good dating career” (p. 20) It was well established that girls should “control [their] impatience, therefore, and respect the time-honored custom of boys to take the first step” (p. 20) However, nothing barred girls from being able to use “tricks and stratagems” to encourage boys to ask them out (p. 20). While the import of all social scripts that existed in the 1950s is unknown, it is enough to know that social scripts were present in American culture at that time. These social norms that established how to properly go about forming dating relationships “were constantly reiterated and reinforced” (p. 8) through culture. “The sameness of the message was overwhelming” in the 1940–1960s (p. 8). Popular magazines, advice books, and etiquette books all reinforced the same expectations about dating. Not only did popular culture reinforce standard protocols, but college courses and professional journals did as well (p. 8). In modern culture, the idea of having social scripts to guide dating decisions is unpopular. Modern feminists bemoan the protocols of the 1950s as repressive. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of each social script, the fact that there were set social norms in the 1950s seems to have been beneficial in facilitating individuals to more easily meet and pair off with others (p. 8). In the past twenty years, youth have touted their freedom from traditional social norms and declared their liberation from the former restrictive dating culture. Today, women commonly believe they should be allowed to ask men out, to wear short skirts, to hide their boyfriend from their parents, and to take the initiative to form relationships when they so choose. However, has this liberation come with a cost? Has the unrestrained ability of individuals to purue dating through different courses
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created confusion? While changing social scripts is not necessarily a bad thing, is it possible that the demolition of scripts relating to dating is now inhibiting adolescents’ abilities to effectively meet and pair off with others in meaningful ways?
The Common Goal
One difference between a script in the 1950s and a script in modern times seems to be the ultimate objective of dating. The years 1945–52 marked a celebratory period after the end of World War II (Turner, 2003, p. 12). After being away so long at war, men wanted to live the American dream which included finding a job, buying a car, marrying a woman, raising a family, and buying a house (p.12). Marriage was celebrated and American men openly chided women who were not as interested as their European counterparts in the “fundamental business of getting married, having children and making the best homes their means or conditions [would] allow” (Groves, 1938, p. 48). In the Ladies’ Home Journal, a photo featured a man working at a kitchen table with his wife behind him working in the kitchen and a caption stating: “Many young men find that they can do much better work if they get the girl out of their dreams and into their kitchen” (Bailey, 1988, p. 42). Such ideas were not only found in magazines, but also in contemporary attitudes: women openly admitted to going to college to get their “Mrs.” degree in addition to whatever other diploma they were seeking (p. 43). The strong emphasis on marriage culture seemed to be quite influential on dating and marriage. In 1959, fortyseven percent of girls were married before they turned nineteen (p. 43). More marriages occurred in this period than any other year until 1979 (p. 43). The fertility rate also spiked to 3.6 in 1964 (p. 13). Currently, the general objectives of those who date are much less defined than they were in the 1950s. Marriage is not as firmly identified as the end objective, although it is often in some way associated with dating. Without a strong objective or end goal of what a “meaningful and lasting” relationship should be like, adolescents seem to be uncertain about what course to best take in dating.
Establishing Values “A value is what a person believes to be right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, or desirable or undesirable. Values related to dating and
Social Scripts and Dating sexuality are important in shaping the overall lives of younger generations. . . . Such beliefs contribute to a dating and sexual value system that is unique to each person, a framework that enables individuals to appraise and understand their intimate relationships” (Turner, 2003, 27).
There are two different kinds of value systems: intrinsic and extrinsic (p. 28). Extrinsic values are largely derived from established societal standards regarding right and wrong. Intrinsic values are related to an individual’s internalized beliefs that govern his or her everyday behavior (p. 28). While each individual must determine his or her own intrinsic value system, extrinsic value systems have been shown to be extremely influential on the values individuals decide to uphold (p. 29). “Values education is an important facet of character development, and as such, it embraces such virtues as compassion, commitment, and responsibility” (p. 27). During the 1950s these values played a greater role in the mainstream school of thought regarding morals and ethics. Society largely embraced a value system regarding sexuality: an abstinence orientation. An abstinence orientation focused on the avoidance of sexual intercourse before marriage and instead focused on the development of the romantic, compassionate, and spiritual facets of a relationship (p. 27). Now many sexual orientations are openly embraced by our society. Although the abstinence orientation is still present, there is also the permissiveness with affection orientation which allows for sexual intercourse as long as the relationship is viewed as a committed and loving one. There is situational orientation, which allows for sex based on evaluation of the circumstance, motives, and consequences at the moment irrespective of any preconceived rules. The permissiveness without affection orientation emphasizes the importance of sexual pleasure and satisfaction rather than moral constraint irrespective of commitment. Aside from the moral and health concerns that many people express about having a society that embraces so many sexual orientations, having a variety of orientations is problematic for several other reasons. Generally, adolescents are exposed to a number of orientations throughout the course of their lives (p. 30). It takes time to decide on a value system and develop the dedication and discipline to keep it. When teens are bombarded with so many messages at such a young age, it makes it difficult for them to make well thought-out decisions that prevent later regret. It also makes it very difficult for youth to stick with a value system once they have decided
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on one, causing often wide vacillations of value systems during the course of their lives. Additionally, when individuals’ value systems shift and cultural norms weaken, difficulties arise for those entering dating relationships who do not know what to expect of the other person. Unclear sexual expectations are more likely to lead to date rape and non-consensual sex (p. 45). Differing expectations are also more likely to cause confusion and stress (p. 45).
More Options and More Problems
In the 1950s, dating was fairly simplistic and a culture existed where fewer concerns and fewer problems existed (p. 45). As previously stated, it was anticipated in the 1950s that a guy would ask a girl to join him on an outing. This led to dating relationships that eventually led to marriage. Now the landscape of dating has changed entirely. Dating is much more complex and many more concerns exist for individuals. Not only have values changed drastically, but new mediums have been introduced that have changed traditional patterns of interaction, and have thus altered dating. Now children at a very young age use cell phones, e-mail, chat rooms and online dating forums to establish relationships (p. 19). Cyberspace relationships continue to be a growing trend (p. 19). By engaging in so many forms of cyber relationships, youth often expose themselves to online exploitation (p. 39). Dating and drug clubs also form significant concerns. Some drugs are actually referred to as “date rape drugs” because they are colorless, tasteless, odorless, and easy to slip into another’s drink (p. 41). The date drug leaves the victim completely immobilized and impairs his or her memory (p. 41). Those utilizing the drugs often do not see themselves as sexual predators (p. 41). The numbers of date rapes have soared (p. 46). Premarital sex, teenage pregnancy, teenage marriage, birth control, abortion, cohabitation, and same-sex relationships are all readily available choices that teenagers can make. There is also a very real fear of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS. According to the Popultion Reference Bureau, in 2001, adolescent and adult women represented 26 percent of new AIDS cases, compared to 6 percent in 1982 (p. 19). Media has had a significant impact on the forming of dating relationships and expectations. The average adolescent uses media about 40-45 hours per week (p. 19). In the 1960s, what was previously hard-core pornography became more readily available
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in Playboy and other magazines (p. 15). Television shows have gradually shifted away from “I Love Lucy” types to shows that are fraught with softcore pornography. With all the growing concerns and complications regarding dating, it is no wonder that many youth in modern society have expressed fear about dating and uncertainty about how to proceed (A. Rogers, personal communication, May 19, 2011).
In the 1920s, it was paramount that a girl be perceived as popular and wanted by many guys (Bailey, 1988, p. 32). At dances, it was expected that although a woman would go with a chaperon, multiple men would “cut in” and dance with her. She, accordingly, would hardly save a dance for her escort (p. 32). If a woman got stuck with one man for the night, it was seen as socially reprehensible (p. 32). The instruction was for women to play “hard to get” (Parker, 2005). A woman must be seen in the right places with the right men to convey that she was in high demand (Turner, 2003, 26). The focus was not on the one, but on the many (p. 32). In the 1950s, the emphasis changed from a woman’s popularity being determined by how many suitors were trying to chase her to whether she had a steady boyfriend or not Success was defined as having a dependable escort (p. 32). In the 1950s a mother would be shocked if her daughter danced with her escort the entire night (p. 32). The girl was similarly surprised that her mother expected that she would dance with anyone else (p. 32). Pop culture in the 1950s glamorized having one guy, not multiple guys (p. 32). Shows such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” a musical produced in 1960, are examples of the glamorization of “steady dating.” It is interesting that with the change of emphasis from having multiple suitors in the 1920s to “steady dating” in the 1950s, the average of marriages significantly dropped (p. 166). Today, while steady dating is still emphasized in some circles, a woman’s worth is often based at least partially upon how many suitors she has and whom she is seen with, which reflects views similar to the 1920s. The number of dating partners, casual or serious, has multiplied (Bailey, 1988, p. 6).Women must be seen in order to be wanted by many men. Generally having only one suitor “seeking after you” seems to be less desirable (p. 6).
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There seem to be a few problematic elements with this perspective. The first is that by “playing hard to get” or attempting to get the attention of multiple men, it is possible to sidestep the goal of obtaining a “lasting and meaningful” relationship. Another problem seems to be the corresponding growing attitude of “someone else might be better.” It seems that both men and women, while prone to date lots of people, are less likely to date one person and work out potential problems. With these growing trends, the goal of pairing off with someone for a lasting and meaningful relationship may remain continually elusive.
The purpose of this article is not to glorify the 1950s as idealistic or perfect. Undoubtedly aspects of dating in the 1950s were less conducive to developing happy relationships and have since been improved. However, there are many differences between dating in the 1950s and dating today. While the exact implications of reinstating certain traditional elements of dating are unknown, it seems that by more carefully examining the culture in a time when large numbers of people were successfully able to enter into relationships at an early age could potentially help individuals meet and pair off in meaningful relationships.
References Bailey, B. L. (1988). From front porch to back seat: Courtship in twentieth-century America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Groves, “Report,” American Magazine, 1938, 48. Browne, J. (2006). Dating for dummies. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing Inc.Kent, Margaret, How to Marry the Man of Your Choice, (Warner Communications Company, 1984). Capallanus, A. (1960). The art of courtly love. Columbia: Columbia University Press. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from http://www.the-orb.net/textbooks/anthology/ beidler/courtly.html.Released in 2009. Mraz, J., & Caillat, C. (Performer). (2009). Lucky. On We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things [Online sound recording]. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://boysnightout899.multiply.com/video/item/362 Kuriansky, J. (2003). The complete idiot’s guide to dating. New York City: Alpha Books. Sayles, Ginie, The Seduction: Every Woman’s Guide to the Art of Sensuality Mystique, (Avon Books, 1997).
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Parker, D. (2005, October). Whatâ€™s a modern girl to do? The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/30/magazine/30feminism. html?pagewanted=print. Post, E. (1922). Etiquette in society, in business, in politics, and at home. New York City: Funke & Wagnalls. Scott, T. J. (2003). Dating and sexuality in America. N.p.: ABC-CLIO. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2007). Marriage and divorce: Changes and their driving forces. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/papers/1335.pdf19
Personality, Relationship Satisfaction, and Familyto-work Conflict Kaylene J. Fellows E. Jeffrey Hill Dean M. Busby Erin K. Holmes
s nonstandard work-hours become more prevalent (Kalil, Ziol-Guest, & Esptein, 2010; Wittmer & Martin, 2010), as dual-earner couples become more common ( Jacobs & Gerson, 1998), and as employed men are expected to spend more time doing unpaid work at home (Hook, 2006), research on the work-family interface becomes increasingly important. Particularly salient for working individuals is the issue of work-family conflict, â€œa form of interrole conflict in which the role pressures from work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respectâ€? (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985, p. 77). Work-family conflict is a fairly common occurrence, with approximately half of the individuals in many samples reporting that they experience such conflict at least some of the time (Anderson, Coffey, & Byerly, 2002; Erikson, Martinengo, & Hill, 2010; Hill, 2005). An integral part of workfamily conflict is its bidirectional nature (Hill, 2005). Work-family conflict can be classified as work-to-family conflict (employment makes family life difficult) or family-to-work conflict (family life makes employment difficult). We focus on the latter in this paper. Family-to-work conflict is associated with a number of negative outcomes for individuals, families, and organizations, including job absenteeism (Anderson et al., 2002), job distress, work overload (Frone, Yardley, & Markel, 1997), and lower levels of job performance (Frone et al., 1997; Witt & Carlson, 2006), as well as compromised family well-being (Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998), stress (Anderson et al., 2002) and depression (Frone, Russell,
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& Cooper, 1992a). Despite the potential problems associated with familyto-work conflict, the area has been understudied (Crouter, 1984; Frone, 2003; Hill, 2005). Another understudied aspect of the work-family interface is the role of individual differences and personality. Despite continual calls for more research in this area (Allen, Herst, Bruck, & Sutton, 2000; Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux, & Brinley, 2005; Voydanoff, 2007), little is actually known about how personality impacts the interaction between work and family domains. Additionally, no studies have examined how the role partner’s personality might have on the work-family interface. Accordingly, we examine how personality, partner personality, and relationship satisfaction predict family-to-work conflict.
Review of Relevant Literature
We briefly review the extant literature related to personality, relationship satisfaction, and family-to-work conflict. We organize this review by the main relationships in our theoretical model (see Figure 1): the relationship between partner’s personality and relationship satisfaction, the relationship between relationship satisfaction and family-to-work conflict, and the relationship between partner’s personality and family-to-work conflict. We then review the literature regarding gender differences in family-to-work conflict and our control variables.
Personality and Relationship Satisfaction
The impact of personality on marriage has been a topic of study for decades (Luo et al., 2002). Throughout this time, neuroticism has consistently been the strongest predictor of marital dissatisfaction, with sporadic and contradictory evidence on the effects of other personality characteristics (Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese, 2000). Additionally, the vast majority of researchers have looked exclusively at self-report data (Watson et al., 2000). Self- and partner-ratings appear to predict relationship satisfaction separately (Bouchard, Lussier, & Sabourin, 2000). Indicating that it is not wise to generalize ratings found through self-ratings to partner personality. The researchers who have examined partner’s personality and marital satisfaction (Botwin, Buss, & Shackelford, 1997; Bouchard et al., 2000; Caughlin, Huston, & Houts, 2000; Luo et al., 2002) have typically found that traits like openness to experience and agreeableness had a moderately
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Figure 1 The Initial Theoretical Model Neuroticism
Conscientiousness Extraversion Openness
Agreeableness Partner Neuroticism Partner Conscientiousness Partner Extraversion
Controls: Level of education Annual income Hours worked per week Length of relationship
positive influence (Botwin et al., 1997), and neuroticism had a strong negative influence (Caughlin et al., 2000) on relationship satisfaction.
Relationship Satisfaction and Family-to-Work Conflict
There is already a healthy body of research that indicates that family-towork conflict and relationship satisfaction are correlated or that familyto-work conflict predicts lowered relationship satisfaction (Galovan et al., 2010; Hill, 2005; Kinnunen, Feldt, Geurts, & Pulkkinen, 2006; Kinnunen, Vermulst, Gerris, & Mäkikangas, 2003). However, very little research has reported how relationship satisfaction predicts family-to-work conflict. This is particularly interesting given that it has been theoretically established that family-to-work conflict primarily starts with the family (Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1992b; Voydanoff, 2007). The two studies that we are aware of that have looked at marital quality as an antecedent of familyto-work conflict yielded surprising results. Stevens, Minnotte, Mannon, and Kiger (2007) found that relationship satisfaction did not significantly
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predict family-to-work negative spillover. However, their sample size was rather small (with only 312 individuals) which may account for lack of significance. The sample is also difficult to generalize, as all participants were from northern Utah. Similarly, Brotheridge and Lee (2005) found that marital distress did not significantly predict family interference with work within a sample of 474 Canadian government workers. Yet, generalizing findings from this study might be unwise, as the response rate was only 19%. This paper will help to fill this gap in the literature.
Personality and Family-to-Work Conflict
Very few studies have examined self-reports of personality and family-towork conflict. Grzywacz and Marks (2000) found that neuroticism was positively correlated with family-to-work conflict. Bruck and Allen (2003) replicated this finding, and also found that conscientiousness and agreeableness were negatively correlated with family interference with work. Similarly, Wayne, Musisca, and Fleeson (2004) found that neuroticism was positively associated with family interference with work, and that conscientiousness negatively predicted family interference with work. Biggart, Corr, Oâ€™Brien, and Cooper (2010) found that emotional intelligence and self-control were both negatively associated with family-to-work conflict. We found no studies that specifically examined the relationship of partner personality and family-to-work conflict or even to any aspect of the workfamily interface. This study attempts to fill this gap in the work-family literature.
Gender Differences in Family-to-Work Conflict
Research up to this point has been inconclusive regarding gender differences in work-family conflict (Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux, & Brinley, 2005), both in the amount of family-to-work conflict experienced by each gender. Several authors found that there were no gender differences in the amount of family-to-work conflict reported by men and women (Frone et al., 1992b; Gutek, Searle, & Klepa, 1991; Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998), but there were other authors who found that women reported more family-towork conflict than did men (Carlson, Kacmar, & Williams, 2000; Higgins, Duxbury, & Lee, 1994; Hill, 2005). Scholars conducting qualitative research also found gender differences (Loscocco, 1997). To help reach a conclusion on the subject, Ford, Heinen, and Langkamer (2007) recently performed a meta-analysis and found no gender differences related to the influence of
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antecedents and outcomes of family interference with work, but even they suggested that this may have been because they had a limited number of studies which reported the correlation. Clearly, more research is needed in this area.
In addition to our main variables of interest, we decided to control for variables which have been previously demonstrated to have an effect on our outcome variables. Frone et al. (1992a) found that blue- and white-collar workers differed in their work-family conflict experiences, so we include education level, annual income, and hours worked per week in our model as control variables. It is a common practice to control for such demographic information in research on the work-family interface (see, for example, Hammer, Ă˜ystein, NytrĂ¸, Torvatn, & Bayazit, 2004; Kinnunen, & Mauno, 1998; Stevens et al., 2007). In addition, length of relationship has consistently been shown to have an influence on relationship satisfaction (Halford, Lizzio, Wilson, & Occhipinti, 2007; VanLaningham, Johnson, & Amato, 2001). Because relationship satisfaction is an important predictor in our model, we also include relationship length as a control.
Expanding Extant Research
There is a paucity of research regarding family-to-work conflict generally, and even less on how relationship satisfaction predicts family-to-work conflict. Additionally, few researchers have investigated how personality impacts the work-family interface, despite continual calls for more research in this area (Allen, Herst, Bruck, & Sutton, 2000; Eby et al., 2005; Voydanoff, 2007). More specifically, all of the currently available studies on personality and the work-family interface have only used self-reports of personality. This represents a serious shortcoming in the literature, as self-reports are typically less accurate, since subjects are apt to rate themselves more favorably than they rate others ( John & Robins, 1994). Ratings of partner characteristics have often been found to be better predictors of relationship outcomes than self-ratings (Busby, Holman, & Taniguchi, 2001; Saffrey, Bartholomew, Scharfe, Henderson, & Koopman, 2003). Thus, partner reports are important in our attempts to understand family relationships (Busby & Gardner, 2008). Finally, as mentioned previously, there are still questions regarding how the amount of family-to-work conflict differs by gender. The goal of
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this study is to take steps towards addressing these shortcomings in the body of work-family research.
We utilize the person-environment fit theory as the basis of our model. This perspective posits that the demands placed on individuals are most significant when considered in the context of their abilities and the resources available to them (Edwards, 1996). This is relevant to our topic because we examine both characteristics of the individual (i.e., personality), as well as characteristics of the environment (i.e., partner personality and marital satisfaction). Some aspects of partner personality can be considered resources which contribute to the overall person-environment fit whereas other partner personality characteristics represent demands which make person-environment fit less likely to occur. We view both lower family-to-work satisfaction and greater family-to-work conflict as manifestations of a lack of person-environment fit. Additionally, depending on its level, relationship satisfaction can also be treated as a resource that enables or a demand that hampers person-environment fit, leading to greater family-or-work conflict. Thus, we propose that personality, partner personality, and relationship satisfaction will predict family-to-work conflict (see Figure 1). Because gender might also have a significant impact on the difference resources or abilities that an individual has available to them, as well as their environment (Hill, Hawkins, M채rtinson, & Ferris, 2003), we also test to see the level of family-to-work conflict reported differs by gender. Specifically, we address the following research questions: R1. Do men and women differ in the amount of family-to-work conflict they experience? R2. Are self and partner personality characteristics (specifically, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness) related to family-to-work conflict? Are these relationships mediated by relationship satisfaction?
We utilized a sample of 2529 individuals who completed the Relationship Evaluation Questionnaire (RELATE; Busby, Holman, & Taniguchi, 2001)
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between January and November of 2010. Participants took RELATE, a 300plus item questionnaire on the Relate website. Participants were recruited from a variety of settings including internet and newspaper ads, word of mouth, college professors, and relationship educators familiar with the RELATE instrument. We reduced this sample to contain only individuals who were working (ranging from 1 to 100 hours per week, M = 37.41) and who were part of a committed romantic relationship (30% of the sample reported seriously dating their partner, 39% reported being engaged, and 31% reported being married). The sample was moderately diverse with 82.8% Caucasian, 5.5% Asian, 4.6% Black, 4.2% Latino, and 2.7% mixed race or other. The average respondent reported education equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, and an annual income (before taxes and deductions) between $40,000 and $60,000. Approximately 42% of the participants were men and 59% were women.
Personality. We utilized measures from the RELATE big five personality scales (neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, and agreeableness). These swcales have been evaluated for consistency with other big five measures (Draper & Holman, 2005) and consisted of two to eight questions for each dimension that were adjectives such as “kind, flexible, out-going, anxious,” and so forth. Participants were asked to rate how often these words described themselves and their partner on a 5-point Likert response scale ranging from “never” to “very often.” The reliability was good for all of the self and partner scales; internal consistency reliability coefficients ranged from .74 to .89. Relationship satisfaction. This scale consisted of questions about how satisfied participants were with seven different areas including the time they spent together, the love they experienced, the physical intimacy they experienced, the way conflict was resolved, their communication, the amount of relationship equality they experienced, and satisfaction with their overall relationship. Respondents indicate their satisfaction on a 5-point Likert scale from “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied.” The internal consistency reliability coefficient for the relationship satisfaction scale was good, α = .88. Additional test-retest reliability estimates in past research were between .76 and .78 (Busby et al., 2001). Validity data have also shown the strength of this scale, indicating that it is highly correlated with the existing relationship quality and
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satisfaction measures both in cross-sectional and longitudinal research (Busby et al., 2001). Family-to-work conflict. This scale included two items that were adapted from Grzywacz and Bass (2003). The scale assessed how often respondents felt that responsibilities at home decreased their ability to function well at work through both reduced energy and distraction. Respondents answered on a scale from “never” to “very often”. The internal consistency reliability for family-to-work conflict was acceptable, a = .60.
In order to determine if there is a gender difference in family-to-work conflict reported, we performed an independent samples t-test. We also ran correlations to get a basic feel for trends in the data. For the remainder of the research questions, we ran a structural equation model using Mplus (version 5.2, Muthén & Muthén, 2008). With the exception of the relationship satisfaction variable, which was measured as a latent construct, all of the variables were measured as scale-score observed variables. We were also able to utilize the modification indices to add covariance lines to the model. Additionally, two of the control variables, level of education and hours worked per week were not significant and were removed from the final model for the sake of parsimony. The final structural model can be seen in Figure 2. Covariates and error terms are omitted for readability. This is the model about which we report fit statistics in the results section. Additionally, we employed bootstrapping to test mediation (Shrout & Bolger, 2002). This was performed to determine if personality and partner personality traits were associated with family-to-work conflict indirectly via relationship satisfaction.
Table 1 includes the means, standard deviations, and correlations for the Big 5 personality characteristics, couple relationship satisfaction, and familyto-work conflict. Family-to-work conflict was most positively correlated with neuroticism and partner neuroticism and most negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction, partner openness, and partner agreeableness. We now examine the results in terms of our three research questions.
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Figure 2 The Final Structural Model with Betas Neuroticism .27*
Agreeableness Partner Neuroticism Partner Conscientiousness Partner Extraversion
Controls: Annual income Length of relationship
Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelations M (SD)
6. Partner Neuroticism
7. Partner Conscientiousness 3.40 (.96)
8. Partner Extraversion
9. Partner Openness
10. Partner Agreeableness
11. Relationship Satisfaction 3.77 (.84)
12. Family-to-Work Conflict 2.52 (.71)
**Significant at p < .001
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R1. Do men and women differ in the amount of family-to-work conflict they experience? The means for family-to-work conflict were quite similar by gender (M = 2.48 for men, 2.54 for women), both falling between “rarely” and “sometimes.” We ran an independent samples t-test which indicated that this difference was not statistically significant t (2466) = -1.93, p = .054. R2. Are self and partner personality characteristics (specifically, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness) related to family-to-work conflict? Are these relationships mediated by relationship satisfaction? To answer this question we ran a structural equation model examining these variables. We utilized several conservative fit indices to assess the overall model fit of our structural model. We first examined the chisquare value; it was high and significant, c2 (91) = 811.00, p < .001. We also employed a variety of other fit measures to establish if this model fit the data appropriately. We concluded that the final model was an acceptable fit to the data, CFI = .96, TLI = .93, RMSEA = .06. The final model with standardized coefficients can be seen in Figure 2. In order to determine if personality and partner personality characteristics were indirectly related to family-to-work conflict via relationship satisfaction, we employed maximum likelihood bootstrapping with a 95% confidence interval to extract 200 bootstrap samples to determine mediation and to obtain the bias-corrected significance levels for the direct, indirect, and total effects (see Table 2). This test revealed that neuroticism, conscientiousness, partner neuroticism, partner conscientiousness, partner openness, and partner agreeableness were significantly, indirectly related to family-to-work conflict through relationship satisfaction (p < .05). These effects were partially mediated, as the direct relationships between the personality variables and family-to-work conflict were reduced when relationship satisfaction was included in the model, but were not reduced to equal zero. Table 2 shows that various personality traits also varied in the strength of their relationship, with overall effects ranging from .01 to .31. Neuroticism was the strongest overall predictor of family-to-work conflict, a = -.31. Relationship satisfaction and partner neuroticism were also moderate predictors. The remainder of the personality characteristics did not seem to be strongly linked to family-to-work conflict. Despite this, personality and the couple relationship still appear to be important
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Table 2 Decomposition of Effects on Family-to-Work Conflict Variable
Direct Effect .27***
Total Effects .31
*p < .05, * p < .01, ***p < .001
predictors or family-to-work conflict, as our model accounted for a total of 19% of the variance in family-to-work conflict.
Past research has consistently confirmed that family-to-work conflict can be problematic for organizations, families, and individuals (Anderson et al., 2002; Frone et al., 1997; Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998; Frone et al., 1992a). However, there is scant research identifying specific possible predictors of family-to-work conflict. Additionally, the literature that does exist on family-to-work conflict tends to focus on the parent-child relationship, rather than the couple relationship. This study begins to address this gap in the literature by examining the degree to which personality, partnerâ€™s personality, and couple relationship satisfaction are related to family-to-work conflict. First, we examined levels of family-to-work conflict by gender. We found men and women report similar levels of family-to-work conflict, differing only by .06 on five-point Likert scale. Though this is statistically significant the level of difference is so small as to be meaningless. Many assume that family-to-work conflict is a womanâ€™s issue. Our research indicates that both men and women experience family-to-work conflict to a similar degree. This means that potential interventions to address issues
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with family-to-work conflict ought to address the needs of both men and women. Second, we found that both personality characteristics and couple relationship satisfaction were related to each other and to family-to-work conflict. That said, we found the relationship of distinct personality characteristics (of both self and partner) to family-to-work conflict to be varied. Some characteristics, such as agreeableness or openness, are not significantly related to family-to-work conflict (or relationship satisfaction) at all, whereas others, like neuroticism, have a strong ability to predict family-to-work conflict. The two personality characteristics were neuroticism and partner neuroticism, which supports prior work on personality and the work-family conflict. It is also interesting to note that both conscientiousness and partner conscientiousness predicted lower levels of family-to-work conflict. One explanation of this is that conscientiousness individuals are able to keep their lives more organized leading to a better ability to manage work and family demands. Similarly, if oneâ€™s romantic partner is conscientious, this may decrease family-to-work conflict because scheduling, etc. is more orderly. Similar effects were demonstrated with both self and partner openness and agreeableness. This finding is to be expected, as it is intuitive that increased flexibility and agreeableness on the part of both partners would reduce the strain that an employee feels at work due to family concerns. One unexpected (albeit small in magnitude) finding was that both self and partner extraversion were positively related to family-to-work conflict. Perhaps this is a reflection of the fact that extraverted partners spend more time talking to their spouse (or other employees) during work, which leads to a decreased amount of time for work. However, it should be noted that the effect sizes for most of the personality characteristics were quite small. Personality and partnerâ€™s personality may have an impact on family-to-work conflict, but it does not explain huge amount of the variance in this outcome. Personality, partnerâ€™s personality, and relationship satisfaction only accounted for a total of 19% of the variance in family-to-work conflict. Next, we found that relationship satisfaction itself predicted family-towork conflict. This finding stands in contrast to prior research, which has not found it to be a significant predictor. Much of prior research on the antecedents of family-to-work conflict has focused on children or parenting. However, our study indicates that characteristics of or problems with couple relationships may also cause problems at work and should not be neglected when considering the antecedents of work-family imbalance. This lends credence to assuring that
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employee assistance programs (EAP) include couple relationship counseling for employees. Such programs have been shown to be effective in uncovering and dealing with relationship problems (see Crane’s work on effectiveness of MFT). Our research suggests that doing so may reduce family-to-work conflict. As a consequence, organizations may reap the benefits of decreased job absenteeism (Anderson et al., 2002), reduced job distress and work overload (Frone et al., 1997), and higher levels of job performance (Frone et al., 1997; Witt & Carlson, 2006). Likewise, families may reap the benefits of enhanced family well-being (Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998), and decreased stress for individuals (Anderson et al., 2002) and reduced risk of depression (Frone et al., 1992a). Fourth, some personality characteristics (specifically, neuroticism, conscientiousness, partner neuroticism, and partner agreeableness) appear to predict family-to-work conflict both directly and through relationship satisfaction. This seems to indicate that some personality characteristics influence relationship satisfaction, but also have an additional influence by hindering (or enhancing) their spouse’s ability to perform well on the job. For example, an individual might not mind that their spouse is neurotic or emotionally needy, but this may still cause interruptions at work. Or, in the opposite direction, having a spouse that is highly agreeable may have additional benefits above and beyond the increased relationship satisfaction. However, it should be noted that the effect sizes for most of the personality characteristics were quite small. Personality and partner’s personality may have an impact on family-to-work conflict, but it doesn’t not explain huge amount of the variance in this outcome. Personality, partner’s personality, and relationship satisfaction only accounted for a total of 19% of the variance in family-to-work conflict. Although this does not represent a strong effect, it does indicate that both individual characteristics and the romantic relationship are significantly related to the amount of family-to-work conflict experienced. Thus, we believe that interventions aimed at improving both emotional functioning and relationship quality are an important step in reducing this type of conflict. These types of programs are often overshadowed by programs that attempt to make childrearing easier (e.g., daycare vouchers, etc.). Setting up policies that focus exclusively on childcare are neglecting two potentially important antecedents of family-to-work conflict—employee personality and their romantic relationship. An implication of these results is that employees may benefit from training to make a good fit between personality traits and relationship satisfaction. One example of a family life education intervention is to hold a
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relationship enhancement workshop focusing on the fit between the individual’s personality and the partner’s personality. One activity in such a workshop might include grouping partners by partner relationship type and then exploring ways to optimize the relationship together.
This research has important practical value for organizations, families, and therapists. To reduce family-related strain or distraction on the job, practitioners should work with both employees and their spouses to improve both relationship quality and emotional functioning. Additionally, neuroticism seems to be a key predictor of family-to-work conflict. Where it is not possible to work with employees and their families, attempts to reduce the negative emotionality of the employee are likely be the most effective intervention. Marriage and family therapists and educators should also be aware of the potential employment strains that may occur when couples are struggling, and perhaps should try to find ways to buffer these effects.
Directions for Future Research
Since this is the first study to look at both self and partner personality and family-to-work conflict, replication is certainly needed before any firm conclusions are made. This is particularly true of gender difference analyses, as our results were somewhat inconclusive. We also suggest further research which uses a matched dataset in order to ascertain which reporters’ responses are the best predictors of family-to-work conflict. Our finding that relationship satisfaction is a significant predictor of familyto-work is incongruent with prior research, and therefore should be replicated with other samples. Additionally, longitudinal research would certainly be helpful in understanding these relationships; specifically, it might help us to understand whether neuroticism increases reports of family-to-work conflict or whether family-to-work conflict causes increased neuroticism. Researchers should also note that self and partner ratings often have separate abilities to predict the same phenomenon. It would be beneficial to employ these variables in more work-family research. Finally, it would be extremely beneficial to test to see if other aspects of the couple relationship—such as relationship stability, communication styles, etc.—predict family-to-work conflict or mediate the relationship between personality and family-to-work conflict.
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Although this study represents an important addition to the current literature, it is not without limitations. We used cross-sectional data, so we cannot assert that certain personality characteristics cause family-to-work conflict. We also used self-report data which is subject to respondent bias. Finally, our sample was not randomly selected, and therefore should be generalized with caution.
In sum, we found that aspects of personality, partner personality, and relationship satisfaction predict family-to-work conflict. Neuroticism and partner neuroticism were the most noteworthy predictors of family-towork conflict, following by conscientiousness and partner conscientiousness. These findings represent an important addition to the scarce research on personality and the work-family interface.
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Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. (2008). Mplus user’s guide. Los Angeles CA: Muthén & Muthén. Saffrey, C., Bartholomew, K., Scharfe, E., Henderson, A. J., & Koopman, R. (2003). Selfand partner-perceptions of interpersonal problems and relationship functioning. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20 117–139. Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and non-experimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445. Stevens, D. P., Minnotte, K. L., Mannon, S. E., & Kiger, G. (2007). Examining the ‘’neglected side of the work-family interface’’: Antecedents of positive and negative family-to-work spillover. Journal of Family Issues, 28, 242–262. VanLaningham, J., Johnson, D. R., & Amato, P. R. (2001). Marital happiness, marital duration, and the U-shaped curve: Evidence from a five-wave panel study, Social Forces, 79, 1313–1341. Voydanoff, P. (2007). Work, family, and community: Exploring interconnections. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Watson, D., Hubbard, B., & Wiese, D. (2000). General traits of personality and affectivity as predictors of satisfaction in intimate relationships: Evidence from self-and partner-ratings. Journal of Personality, 68, 413–449. Wayne, J. H., Musisca, N., & Fleeson, W. (2004). Considering the role of personality in the work–family experience: Relationships of the big ﬁve to work–family conﬂict and facilitation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64, 108–130 Wittmer, J. L., & Martin, J. E. (2010) Emotional exhaustion among employees without social or client contact: The key role of nonstandard work schedules. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 607–623.
Fostering Self-Control Joshua Cox
elf-control is the essence of character. It is crucial for individual wellbeing, healthy families, and it improves society at large. The lack of self-control is at the root of many of society’s ailments. An investigation of self-control will define what it is, reveal why it is crucial, and show how to create an environment which fosters it. Benjamin Franklin, whose several contributions to the world have improved the quality of our lives, once said “Educate your children to selfcontrol, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society” (Edwards, 1899). The principle of self-control has been a point of interest among psychologists as well as social and family scientists for years. While the exact definition of self-control may vary according to each scholar’s opinion, its roots are intertwined with such concepts as self-regulation, personal mastery, selfdiscipline, and delay of gratification. Tangney and colleagues (2004) have defined self-control as ‘‘the ability to override or change one’s inner responses, as well as to interrupt behavioral tendencies (such as impulses) and refrain from acting on them.” As Baumeister and Vohs (2004) defined it, self-regulation is “how a person exerts control over his or her own responses so as to pursue goals and live up to standards”. The duality of impulsivity and self-control is difficult to comprehend in its entirety but has been studied on multiple levels. A classic study conducted by a professor at Stanford University, Walter Mischel
(1989), has shed light on the predictive qualities of self-control, which he defined as the ability to delay gratification. In his study, conducted in the early 1960s, four-year-old children were left alone in a room and were given a treat to eat, such as a large marshmallow. However, if they waited 15 minutes, they would get another marshmallow. Only one third waited for the whole 15 minutes. The results were interesting, but what was revealed over the following years was fascinating. The story was told by the journalist Jonah Lehrer (2009). As the months and years went by, Mischel visited with his three daughters over the dinner table, and he would occasionally ask how their peers were doing in school. Over time, he began to notice a connection between the children’s academic performance as teens and whether or not they waited for their second marshmallow when they were four years old. In 1981 he set out to gather as much data as possible from teachers, parents, and academic advisors of the original 653 children who had been tested. What he found was that those children who were unable to delay gratification by waiting for fifteen minutes were more likely to develop behavioral problems, to struggle under stress, to have a poor attention span, and to have a harder time keeping friends. On the contrary, those who were able to hold off eating the marshmallow performed better academically and were socially healthier individuals (Mischel, Shoda, & Rodriguez, 1989). Subsequent studies have contributed valuable findings regarding the ability to delay gratification. For instance, self-control has shown to predict academic performance more accurately than intelligence tests (Duckworth & Seligman, 2006). Outside of academics, those with higher levels of selfcontrol have been found to be in better psychological health, have improved interpersonal relationships, and do better on achievement related tasks (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004). The preventative qualities of self-control have not been overlooked, as crime and delinquency, alcohol and substance use, and unhealthy behaviors are uncommon among those with high self-control (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004). Eran Magen and James Gross (2007) identified two possible strategies for exercising self-control and then suggested a third. With reference to Mischel’s study with children (1989), the first strategy identified was labeled “attention-control.” This strategy is the process of withholding attention from the tempting aspects of an object or activity. Pretending the object is merely a picture, or completely ignoring the temptation, are a couple of examples of attention-control. Second is the ability to “inhibit,
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override, or alter responses that may arise as a result of physiological processes, habit, learning, or the press of the situation” by expending a limited self-regulatory resource (Baumeister, Muraven, & Tice, 2000; Schmeichel & Baumeister, 2004, p. 86). To illustrate the application of these two strategies, imagine the dilemma encountered by John, a college student, who is enticed to play a video game with his roommates the night before his history test. Although he wants to play the game, he knows that by doing so he would miss out on valuable study time and would later regret having spent his time on the video game. Using attention-control, he could divert his attention to his homework, pretending as though the game were unavailable. On the other hand, he could override the impulse to play the game by literally willing himself to sit down and study, making the more cognitive decision to study over playing the game. In both of these scenarios, John would work against the pull for immediate gratification, either by preventing it through attention-control or by overriding it. A third strategy deals with the perception of the situation. By thinking about the situation in a different way, a process called cognitive reconstrual, succumbing to a temptation can become less appealing while resisting is made more appealing. Turning back to the illustration above, a successful cognitive reconstrual would be seen as John considering his dilemma to be a test of his willpower. In this light, playing the video game would be less appealing because it would suggest a weakness of will, and studying for the test would become immediately gratifying because it would prove his strength of will. Experimentation where subjects were told to consider their ability to delay gratification as a test of their willpower gave promising results, for “once participants reconstrued the situation as a test of willpower, they found considerably less pleasure in succumbing to temptation” (Magen & Gross, 2007). It is important to note that failure to resist temptations under cognitive reconstrual can result in feelings of defeat and discouragement. Feelings of defeat and discouragement leave the individual more susceptible to other such temptations (Baumeister, 1997). The authors assert that “the courage to challenge oneself is important but may be dangerous, and even counterproductive, when it is not accompanied by a measure of compassion toward oneself and one’s own shortcomings” (Magen & Gross, 2007). While feeling discouraged after failing to exercise self control can be detrimental, acting impulsively also undermines self-control. Acting on impulse with
little or no self-control “leads to undesirable outcomes in many personal spheres, as noted earlier. In fact, many of the most prevalent contemporary societal problems result from deficits in self-control” (Friese & Hofmann, 2009). Many problematic behaviors can be attributed to impulsive behavior, but perhaps none is more detrimental than addictive behavior. Addiction is the antithesis of self-control. Under the influence of an addiction, the ability to resist the need for immediate gratification is squelched by the virtually insuppressible impulse. In essence, agency is surrendered, and individuals are subject to be reactive, rather than proactive. As Walter Mischel put it, “unless individuals have the competencies necessary to sustain delay when they want to do so, the choice itself is lost” (Mischel, Shoda, & Rodriguez, 1989). Thus, lack of control over when or how frequently one does something is a loss of individual agency. Loss of agency is not solely a personal problem, but presents a threat to others within the individuals’ sphere of influence. This merciless cycle destroys both self-control and self-esteem. As Winstok (2009) observed, lower levels of self-control associates with an increase of the need to control others. Those with a high need to control others are more likely to be proactively aggressive. Additionally, the lack of self-control is associated with reactive violence. It is actually self-control which enables us to achieve our long-term goals and ambitions. This typically requires little sacrifices which the psychologist and lay man alike know are often not very easy. For instance, it can be difficult to forgo an invitation to see a new movie in order to keep up an exercise routine, or to miss out on a party to finish a long paper. Developing self-control requires an environment which regularly encourages discipline. Various theories exist which describe the development of self-control. Many studies on the development of self-control demonstrate that religion is means for nurturing self-control. Bartkowski and colleagues (2008) point out that children’s self-control and social competence is strongly influenced by the family religious environment. In their study, they discovered that parents who frequently attend church and regularly discuss religion at home considered their children to have higher self-control and lower impulsivity. Similarly, teachers of the same children also gave them ratings of higher self-control and lower impulsiveness when compared to children of less religious parents. The researchers concluded, “The religious attendance of parents and a cohesive
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religious environment in the home yields significant benefits for children’s behavioral, emotional, and cognitive development.” Although several positive patterns can be traced and linked between religion and the home, defining exact cause and effect relationships can be difficult. A major reason for this is the inability to control and test certain variables. As a result, there exist some discrepancies among researchers and other professionals between what has been proven to be helpful for families and articulating the reason why. With regard to the development of positive character traits, such as self-control, it only stands to reason that the belief in God, which is fostered in religion, gives greater purpose to positive behavior. Mahoney and colleagues (2003) contend that Religion is distinctive because it incorporates peoples’ perceptions of the “sacred” into the search for significant goals and values. . . . The sacred refers to the holy, those things that are “set apart” from the ordinary and deserve veneration and respect. . . . Indeed, part of the power of religion lies in its ability to infuse spiritual character and significance into a broad range of worldly concerns.
When teaching principles of conduct to children, parents who look to God as the ultimate source of guidance are able to validate the directives they give to their children far beyond some personal demand or recommendation. The children look to the parents for guidance, knowing that the parents are looking to God, ultimately developing the example for the children to follow God. McCullough and Willoughby (2009) set out to validate the idea that religion links to health, well-being, and social behavior are largely due to the influence it has on self-control and self-regulation. Their research was based on six propositions, and they were successful in making conclusions on five of those propositions. The propositions consisted of the following: (1) Religiousness can promote self-control; (2) Self-regulation is influenced by the affect religion has on the selection, sanctification, and pursuit of goals; (3) Self-monitoring is promoted by religion, which influences self-regulation; (4) Self-regulatory strength is nurtured by the rituals and religious communities which are fostered by religion; (5) Religions prescribe self-mastery and self-change; and (6) Religion affects both self-regulation and self-control, which promotes health, well-being, and positive social behavior.
McCullough and Willoughby reviewed over 200 studies in order to draw conclusions on their propositions. Their first conclusion is that there is, in fact, strong support for their proposition that religion is positively related to self-control. The previously mentioned work done by Bartkowski and colleagues (2008) regarding the influence that parents’ religiosity has on children’s self-control is an example.The next conclusion is that religion has an influence on the selection, pursuit, and management of goals is supported by substantial evidence. For example, it is a Christian ideal to have control over one’s own thoughts (Cohen & Rozin, 2001). Generally speaking, Jews, Christians, and Muslims are more inclined to pursue relationships that lead to social harmony than they are to pursue individualistic and hedonistic goals (Saroglou, Delpierre, & Dernelle, 2004). Further evidence purports that goals which are sanctified, or which are of great spiritual import, become higher priorities and are given more attention (Mahoney, Pargament, et al., 2005). Third, there is mixed evidence regarding the effect of religion on selfmonitoring. However, among this evidence are several studies which indicate that religious cognition encourages both self-monitoring as well as prosocial attributes (i.e., honesty and generosity) (Shariff & Norenzayan, 2007). The fourth conclusion was that religious rituals promote self-regulation. Religious rituals include prayer, meditation, and scripture study. It was found that some forms of meditation and prayer contribute to self-control in three unique ways: first, they affect regions of the brain which play a role in self-regulation (Azari & Seitz 2005); second, they positively influence attention capacities needed for self-regulation (Tang et al., 2007); and third, they serve to dispel negative emotion (Koole, 2007). The fifth and final conclusion drawn from the research was that studies support the idea that the influence of religion on self-control explains many of the associations between religion, health, overall well-being, and social behavior. While religion is not the only source for acquiring self-control, it has shown to do a remarkable job of fostering this trait by encouraging it on multiple personal and social levels. Religion plays a key role in the well-being of families and individuals by promoting a home environment which nurtures positive behaviors and cultivates self-control. In today’s dynamic society, there has never been a greater need for the exercise of selfcontrol. The ready availability of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, etc., can have disastrous effects on those who do not practice self-control. Not only does
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self-control act as a defense against committing grievous crimes, which taint the world and frustrate the individual, but also facilitates the development of positive aptitudes in numerous personal and social spheres. An increased involvement in religion would likely lead to increased harmony in the home and improve the well-being of individuals.
References Azari, N. P., Missimer, J., & Seitz, R. J. (2005). Religious experience and emotion: Evidence for distinctive cognitive neural patterns. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 15, 263–281. Bartkowski, J. P., Xu, X., & Levin, M. L. (2008). Religion and child development: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study. Social Science Research, 37, 18–36. Baumeister, R. F., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (2000). Ego depletion: A resource model of volition, self-regulation, and controlled processing. Social Cognition, 18, 130–150. Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Self-regulation. In C. Peterson & M. E. P. Seligman (Eds.), Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (pp. 499–516). Washington, DC/New York: American Psychological Association/Oxford Press. Baumeister, R. F. (1997). Esteem threat, self-regulatory breakdown, and emotional distress as factors in self-defeating behavior. Review of General Psychology, 1, 145–174. Cohen, A. B., & Rozin, P. (2001). Religion and the morality of mentality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 697–710. Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16, 939–944. Edwards, T. (1899). A dictionary of thoughts. Detroit, Michigan: Cassell Publishing. Friese, M., & Hofmann, W. (2009). Control me or I will control you: Impulses, trait selfcontrol, and the guidance of behavior. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 795–805. Koole, S. L. (2007). Raising spirits: An experimental analysis of the affect regulation functions of prayer. Unpublished manuscript, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Lehrer, J. (2009. May 18). Don’t. (Online), 15 November 2010. http://www.newyorker.com/ reporting/2009/05/18/090518fa_fact_lehrer?currentPage=1 Magen, E., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Harnessing the need for immediate gratification: Cognitive reconstrual modulates the reward value of temptations. Emotion, 7, 415–428. Mahoney, A., Pargament, K. I., Cole, B., Jewell, T., Magyar, G. M., Tarakeshwar, N., et al. (2005). A higher purpose: The sanctification of strivings in a community sample. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 15, 239–262. Mahoney, A., Pargament, K.I., Murray-Swank, A., Murray-Swank, N., 2003. Religion and the sanctification of family relationships. Review of Religious Research, 44, 220–236.
McCullough, M. E., & Willoughby, B. L. B. (2009). Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: Associations, explanations, and implications. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 69–93. Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. L. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, 933–938. Saroglou, V., Delpierre, V., & Dernelle, R. (2004). Values and religiosity: A meta-analysis of studies using Schwartz’s model. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 721–734. Schmeichel, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2004). Self-regulatory strength. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. New York: Guilford Press. Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2007). God is watching you: Supernatural agent concepts increase prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game. Psychological Science, 18, 803–809. Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 17152–17156. Tangney, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72, 271–322. Winstok, Zeev. (2009). From self-control capabilities and the need to control others to proactive and reactive aggression among adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 455–466.
The Effects of Maternal Employment on Child Development Caitlin Schwanger
f the more than 70 million new jobs created in the United States between 1964 and 1999, 43 million went to women” (The Gale Group, 2007). This statistic says a lot about the changing roles of women: more women than ever are leaving the home to enter the work force. How does this change affect the families of these women? Are their children harmed because of their choice? According to Dunlop (1981), there is evidence that maternal employment does not have a negative effect on child development . She writes, “Maternal employment in itself does not harm children . . . children of working and nonworking mothers are substantially similar in school performance, social adjustment, and incidence of delinquency” (p. 70). It would seem that maternal employment itself cannot be considered harmful to the child. However, other research shows that there are negative effects from maternal employment and that the attendant circumstances of maternal employment can potentially harm the child. Most of these circumstances have to deal with the mother’s limited time. In this paper I will focus on the effects of maternal employment on the socialemotional outcomes, cognitive development, and physical wellbeing of children.
Section I: Review of Research on the Social-Emotional Effects of Maternal Employment Emotional Effects
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with mothers who worked during the first year of their lives may have “externalizing behavior problems, Social Skills, or Peer Competence,” but the children did not have problems with attachment security (First-year, 2010, p. 69). It is suggested that “a responsive, sensitive caregiver is necessary to secure a stable, healthy attachment bond for infants. Secure infants are then expected to show a healthier psychological development, feeling more secure about themselves as well as about their relationships” (Blaskó, 2008, p. 5). A feeling of security is important in the relationship of the child both with his or her mother and with others. Although mothers do not necessarily need to be the “responsive, sensitive caregiver[s],” they will probably more likely be the type of caregivers their infants require. In addition, Erickson (2011) states that “insensitive mothering combined with increased quantity or decreased child-care quality . . . significantly predicts an insecure attachment” (p. 1). Early infant-mother attachment security will predict competency in other social areas (p. 5). When mothers are not available to create and maintain the mother-infant bond, the infant’s relationships with others can be affected. Studies have found that non-maternal child-care can affect children in their social development. The effects are both positive and negative. Those who participate in day-care “appear to be somewhat more peer-oriented and less adult-oriented than are home-reared children” (Dunlop, 1981, p. 71). This could affect child compliance, as children in day-care will be more concerned with their peers than their caregivers. Several studies have also found that children who participate in day-care are more likely to show “increased levels of peer aggression and noncompliance with adults in the preschool and school-age years” (Volling & Feagans, 1995, p. 177). This is especially prevalent if non-maternal child-care is used in the first year of the child’s life. Additionally, “children attending day-care for more hours per week were observed in less solitary play activity and marginally more friendly peer interaction, whereas children entering care at later ages in the 1st year were less likely to interact negatively with peers” (Volling & Feagans, 1995, p. 181). Parents should pay careful attention to the quality of day-care facilities. This usually means a small number of children per adult. Caregivers are less able to give attentive care for each child when they are too far outnumbered; “it is suggested that caregiver’s less sensitive attention to children, the less-personal caregiver-child relationship might lead to hyperactivity,
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physical aggression, anxiety or less social competence” (Blaskó, 2008, p. 11). There are certainly several possible negative outcomes in respect to day-care, but the quantity of care will have a major impact on these effects. Another consideration in a child’s social-emotional development is the mother-newborn bond. The mother-newborn bond is very important for both the mother and the child. The bond increases maternal sensitivity to the child’s needs. The stronger the bond, the more sensitive the mother, the more emotionally secure the child. Many mothers have concerns that their children’s caretakers will replace them in the mother-newborn bond because of the relative amounts of time spent with their children. Several studies have shown that this bond is not harmed by use of day-care (Belsky, 1978). On the other hand, some research has found that “any arrangement that deprives the child of continuous access to the mother impairs the development of a strong maternal attachment and thereby adversely affects the child’s security” (p. 935). As has been mentioned before, a newborn must first have time to develop this bond with his or her mother before he or she can be comfortable in other relationships—with caregivers, for example. For this reason, it is not surprising that a study working with one-year-old children found “greater distress reactions for day-care-reared children than home-reared children during separation from the mother” (p. 937). Mothers should try to take the time, especially in the first year of life, to create a secure bond with their children before returning to work or using child care.
Maternal employment can have some effect on a child’s behavior. One study found that “maternal full-time work does affect the probability of negative behavior outcomes for children aged 4 to 11 years” (Human Resources, 2002). This is often caused by a decreased level of “engagement,” or the time parents spend interacting with their children. Higher engagement levels decrease negative behavior outcomes. One concern regarding the use of day-care is how discipline affects child development. It may be difficult for the child to understand that expectations vary at home and in the day-care—or the child may use this knowledge to his or her advantage. One central issue is whether day-care affects child compliance. “Several studies have reported that children who enter day-care as infants are less compliant with adults than are children in families not using day-care,” stated Howes and Olenick (1986, p. 202).
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In fact it has been suggested that compliance is strongly related to a “secure attachment relationship” (p. 202). It is evident how important it is for mothers and their babies to create that bond. This bond affects many areas of the child’s life—compliance is just one of those areas. The use of day-care is often associated with more negative behavioral outcomes. It has been found that the quantity of day-care is the most accurate predictor for these outcomes. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care (NICHD-SECC ECCRN) found that “quantity of non-maternal child-care as indicated by average hours per week was the most significant and consistent childcare predictor of social-behavioral adjustment (negative), considering outcomes across all ages” (infant to fifteen years) (Erickson, 2011, p. 16). This is an important factor to consider when deciding about child care. The quantity of child care is much more significant than the quality of child care in social and behavioral outcomes.
Section II: Review of Research on the Cognitive Effects of Maternal Employment
Studies have been done to determine the effect of maternal employment on child cognitive development. The findings of these various studies are often contradictory. Some studies show a neutral or positive effect, while others show a negative effect. The effects of maternal employment on cognitive development do not appear readily; to see all of the effects the child must also be studied later in life. Many studies will focus on children between the ages of three and six to measure their cognitive development. In reference to the effects of maternal employment on cognitive development, Christopher Rhum (2004) wrote, Parental investments at the beginning of a child’s life play a significant role in fostering cognitive development. Maternal employment in the first year is associated with lower verbal ability at ages three and four, with partially offsetting benefits for working during the next two years. Early job-holding is estimated to have a more detrimental cumulative impact on the reading and mathematic performance of five- and sixyear-olds, with negative effects persisting for market labor in the second and possibly the third year. (p. 184)
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Some of the negative effects of early maternal employment, especially in the first year, can be offset by later maternal employment. Goldberg, Prouse, Lucas-Thompson, and Himsel’s (2008) study found that “employment was compared to nonemployment for combined and separate achievement outcomes . . . [and] effects were nonsignificant” (p. 77). However, the study also found that there was some benefit to part-time maternal employment as compared with full-time. The authors suggested that many factors can affect child cognitive achievement, some difficult to measure or control. Children who come from financially advantaged households (usually dualincome households) will be more advanced cognitively than children who do not. Additionally, children with low cognitively stimulating mothers will be less affected (cognitively) by their absence (Ruhm, 2004, pp. 1–2). It is difficult to measure the direct impact that maternal employment has on child cognitive development because maternal employment involves many factors, including the quantity of child care, the number of hours worked, and the financial situation of the family.
Section III: Review of Research on the Health Effects of Maternal Employment
While there does not seem to be a direct correlation between maternal employment and the physical development of the child, there are some concerns about nutrition. Butcher (2002) reminds us that while there may be some indirect correlations, it is important to keep in mind that “increases in maternal work may be a small component of the myriad environmental changes affecting children’s health” (p. 3). Childhood obesity can be indirectly linked to maternal employment due to several factors involving less parental supervision and less time for working mothers to prepare healthy meals. It seems to all boil down to having less time to make healthy choices. Anderson, Butcher, and Levine (2003) suggest that “working fewer hours per week allows more time for shopping, cooking, and energy expending play dates or organized sports” (p. 496). These factors make it a difficult balancing act between employment and the physical well-being of the family. There also seems to be a connection between day-care and cortisol levels in children. Cortisol is a hormone related to the regulation of stress and emotions. Vermeer and Van IJzendoorn (2006) stated that “chronic exposure to stress in early childhood may be a risk for later affective and
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cognitive functioning” because of “its close link to the hippocampus, which is involved in emotions, learning and memory” (p. 391). Several studies have been done to compare the cortisol levels in children participating in day-care and those who stay home. There were significant differences in the cortisol secretions. Children at day-care had higher cortisol secretions from morning to afternoon, while secretions did not change or decrease in children at home (p. 394). The studies found that the quality of day-care affected the amount of cortisol, with high-quality day-cares being related to lower levels of cortisol. Nevertheless, there was an increase in cortisol levels in all day-care situations (p. 400). Vermeer and van IJzendoorn suggest that there are other factors influencing cortisol levels and that more studies need to be done, but this information is significant (p. 398). In addition to the possibility of stressful situations at day-care, “chronic increases in stress hormones are considered harmful because it may undermine the immune system” (p. 398). Cortisol is not only related to stress but also to illness in children. Finally, breastfeeding positively affects children’s physical development, healthy weight gain and maintenance (even when they are no longer breastfeeding), and cognitive development. Mothers should be encouraged to provide their developing babies with the best nutrition during the early months of their lives. During this time, the most rapid development occurs. While maternal employment does not necessarily remove the possibility of providing children with breast milk, it does decrease the convenience of doing so. And while formulas and other supplements attempt to simulate the nutrition found in breast milk, these feeding methods have not been perfected yet.
Child-care and nutrition can have a significant impact on the child’s development. When mothers are making the choice concerning child-care, they must remember that the quantity of the child-care is very important. Mothers must remember that regardless of the quality of the child-care, it can never make up for the time mother and child spend together. The mother-infant bond is very important in the infant’s development. It must be established early and maintained constantly. The first six months and even the first year in the development of the child are very important and will be affected by maternal employment.
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All mothers should give this careful consideration. It is during this time that the child develops most rapidly. It is during this time that the child becomes accustomed to the world and establishes relationships. It should be during this time, at least, that mothers give their full attention to their developing children. In such an important part of the development process, it should be difficult to ignore all the needs of the child. Many authors have urged mothers to strongly consider staying home with their children, at least during this critical, and exciting, time in their childrenâ€™s development (First-Year, 2010, pp. 68â€“9). I add my voice to theirs. I recommend that mothers of newborns consider other arrangements, at least during this most important time, the first year. The decision of whether to be a working mother is not a light one. It must be considered carefully and thoughtfully. A child has many needs, and not all of them are developmental. It can be difficult to find a balance between meeting the developmental and financial needs of the child. A mother will have to decide what she thinks is best for her child. No one can know exactly how all of these needs can best be met, except for the mother.
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References Anderson, P. M., Butcher, K. F., and Levine, P. B. (2003). Maternal employment and overweight children. Journal of Health Economics, 22, 477–504. Belsky, J., and Steinberg, L. D. (1978). The effects of day care: A critical review. Child Development, 49(4), 29–49. Blaskó, Z. (2008). Does early maternal employment affect non-cognitive children outcomes? A literature review. Budapest Working Papers on the Labor Market, 1–48. Butcher, K. F., Anderson, P. M., and Levine, P. B. (2002). Maternal employment and overweight children. FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2002–10. Dunlop, K. H. (1981). Maternal employment and child care. Professional Psychology, 12(1), 67–75. Erickson, J. J. (2011). The effects of day care on the social-emotional development of children. Familyfacts.org Report 2, 1–31. First-year maternal employment and child social and emotional development. (2010). Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 75(2), 59–69. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-5834.2010.00567.x/pdf The Gale Group. (2007). WiseTo Social Issues: A Balanced Look at the Issues That Divide Us. Retrieved from http://socialissues.wiseto.com/Topics/WorkingWomen. Goldberb, W. A., Prause, J., Lucas-Thompson, R., and Himsel, A. (2008). Maternal employment and children’s achievement in context: A meta-analysis of four decades of research. Psychological Bulletin, 134(1), 77–108. Howes, C., and Olenick, M. (1986). Family and child care influences on toddler’s compliance. Child Development, 57(1), 202–216. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. (2002). The effect of changes in maternal employment and family composition on children’s behavior. Retrieved from http://www. hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/cs/sp/sdc/pkrf/publications/research/200-2002373/page06.shtml Ruhm, C. J. (2004). Parental employment and child cognitive development. Journal of Human Resources, XXXIX(1), 155–192. Vermeer, H. J., and van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2006). Children’s elevated cortisol levels at daycare: A review and meta-analysis. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 390–401. Volling, B. L. and Feagans, L. V. (1995). Infant day care and children’s social competence. Infant Behavior and Development, 18, 177–188.
Studies on the Family was created to encourage students from all disciplines to research and write about the institution of marriage and family. Studies emphasizes the impact that marriage and family have on society and increases awareness of current issues affecting the family.
Studies on the Family was created to encourage students from all disciplines to research and write about the institution of marriage and fam...