ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 4, Issue 2, 88-117, 2013
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The Evolutionary Basis of Sex Differences in Parenting and Its Relationship with Child Anxiety in Western Societies

Eline L. Moller, Mirjana Majdandzic, Wieke de Vente, and Susan M. Bogels
Research Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2013, Pages 88-117

In this review, we discuss the evolutionary basis of differences in paternal and maternal parenting behavior in Western societies and apply this to the intergenerational transmission of anxiety. The different specializations that males and females developed during the course of human evolution (e.g., social competition, risk taking, taking chances for males, and care, nurturing, intimate bonding for females), are expected to be reflected in their parenting behavior, which evidence confirms. Research is reviewed in which fathers' and mothers' role in (overcoming) child anxiety is examined. It seems that some parenting behaviors are protective for anxiety if they are expressed by the parent of one sex, but are a risk for anxiety development if the other parent displays them. Finally, we propose that it might be more difficult for anxious men to teach their sons their gender role, as anxiety hinders exploring the external world and competing with others, whereas anxiety in women is not likely to negatively affect teaching their gender role of protecting, caring and nurturing to their daughters.

Table of Contents
The Evolutionary Basis of Paternal and Maternal Investment
 The Evolution of Paternal Care
 Interparental Differences in Investment
 Differential Investment in Different Children
Father-Mother Differences in Parenting
 Evolved Gender Differences and Parenting
 Father-Mother Differences in Parenting: Empirical Findings
 Parental Differences in Rearing Sons and Daughters
 Differential Rearing of Sons and Daughters: Empirical Findings
Evolution and Anxiety
 Evolutionary Basis of Anxiety
 The Development of Normal Fears in Children
 The Acquisition of Fears in Children
Fathers' and Mothers' Effects on Child Anxiety
 Bottom-Up Studies: Observed Rearing
 Bottom-Up Studies: Reported Rearing
 Top-Down Studies
 Correlational Cross-Sectional Research: Self-Report of Parenting
 Correlational Cross-Sectional Research: Observation of Parenting
 Longitudinal Studies
 Treatment Research
 Experimental Research
Conclusions and Discussion

Correspondence to
Eline L. Moller, Research Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130, 1018 VZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

human evolution, parenting, sex differences, fathers, paternal investment, child anxiety

Received 31 Jan 2012; Revised 3 May 2012; Accepted 23 May 2012; In Press 27 Jan 2013

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