Saturday, April 24, 2021

Deceptive self-presentation in social media: The more sex-egalitarian the country, the more females reported more use of physical attractiveness and males reported use of personal achievement

Gender gaps in deceptive self-presentation on social media platforms vary with gender equality: A multinational investigation. Dasha Kolesnyk, M.G. de Jong, Rik Pieters. Psychological Science, Accepted/In press Apr 2021. https://research.tilburguniversity.edu/en/publications/gender-gaps-in-deceptive-self-presentation-on-social-media-platfo

Abstract: Deceptive self-presentation (DSP) on social media platforms appears to be common. However, its prevalence and determinants are still largely unknown, partly because admitting such behavior is socially sensitive and hard to study. The authors investigated DSP from the perspective of mating theories in two key domains: physical attractiveness and personal achievement. A truth-telling technique was used to measure DSP in a survey among 12,257 individuals (51% female) across 25 countries. As hypothesized, men and women reported more DSP in the domain traditionally most relevant for their gender in a mating context (females about physical attractiveness and males about personal achievement). However and contrary to lay beliefs (N = 790), we found larger rather than smaller gender differences in DSP in countries with higher gender equality, due to fewer gender-atypical relative to gender-typical DSP in countries with higher gender equality. Higher gender equality was also associated with less DSP for men and women worldwide. Thus, increased gender equality conditions on the (super)national level may allow traditional, ingrained gender differences to express themselves more.



Apparent contradiction between dogs' stronger affectional bonds toward humans than toward members of their own species: Dogs' intense sensitivity to social hierarchy contributes to their willingness to accept human leadership

Dogs' (Canis lupus familiaris) behavioral adaptations to a human-dominated niche: A review and novel hypothesis. Clive D. L. Wynne. Advances in the Study of Behavior, April 24 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.asb.2021.03.004

Abstract: This chapter contextualizes the dog-human relationship in the dog's origin as a scavenger on the fringes of human settlements over 15,000 years ago. It then reviews the evidence for unique evolved cognitive structures in dogs that could explain their success in a human-dominated world. Failing to find evidence of unique human-like social-cognitive capacities I then review uncontroversial facts of dogs' basic behavioral biology, including reproductive and foraging behavior and, particularly, affiliative and attachment-related behaviors. This leads to consideration of dogs' social behavior, both conspecific and toward other species, especially humans. I draw attention to a seldom-noted apparent contradiction between dogs' stronger affectional bonds toward humans than toward members of their own species. Dogs' social groups also show steeper social hierarchies accompanied by more behaviors indicating formal dominance than do other canid species including wolves. I resolve this contradiction by proposing that dogs' intense sensitivity to social hierarchy contributes to their willingness to accept human leadership. People commonly control resources that dogs need and also unknowingly express behaviors which dogs perceive as formal signs of dominance. This may be what Darwin was referring to when he endorsed the idea that a dog looks on his master as on a god. Whatever the merits of this idea, if it serves to redirect behavioral research on dogs in human society more toward the social interactions of these species in their diverse forms of symbiosis it will have served a useful function.

Keywords: DomesticationSymbiosisImprintingDominanceSocial hierarchyDogs (Canis lupus familiaris)Wolves (Canis lupus lupus)



Does success change people? Examining objective career success as a precursor for personality development

Does success change people? Examining objective career success as a precursor for personality development. Andreas Hirschi et al. Journal of Vocational Behavior, April 20 2021, 103582, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103582

Highlights

• Tested if objective career success predicts changes in Big Five personality traits

• Representative German sample assessed three times over eight years was examined

• Career success (i.e., income and occupational prestige) predicted increase in openness

• Higher income predicted decrease in neuroticism

• Higher occupational prestige predicted decrease in extraversion

Abstract: Numerous studies established personality traits as predictors of career success. However, if and how career success can also trigger changes in personality has not received much attention. Drawing from the neosocioanalytic model of personality and its social investment and corresponsive principles, this paper investigated how the attainment of objective career success contributes to personality change in the Big Five traits of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. We conducted cross-lagged analyses with three measurement waves over eight years with a representative sample of 4′767 working adults from the German Socio-Economic Panel and examined if objective success (i.e., income and occupational prestige) predicted changes in personality. We also tested if effects differed across age groups or between men and women. Results showed that career success predicted changes in personality for neuroticism, extraversion, and openness. Higher income predicted a decrease in neuroticism and increase in openness. Higher prestige predicted a decrease in extraversion and an increase in openness. Results did not differ according to age group or for men or women. We discuss the results in light of the effects that career success can exert on personality development and the complexity inherent in observing personality change.

Keywords: Personality changeCareer successPrestigeIncomeSocial investment

3. Discussion

The aim of this paper was to test how personality traits change due to achieved objective career success. We thereby contribute to the limited research on the consequences of career success (Spurk et al., 2019) and to the literature on how work experiences affect changes in personality traits (Tasselli et al., 2018). We also contribute to personality-related vocational and counselling psychology research (Brown and Hirschi, 2013) by highlighting that personality traits not only can affect occupational attainment, but that occupational attainment can also lead to changes in personality. In an important extension of existing research, which is typically based on selective and non-representative convenience samples, we investigated our hypotheses in a large representative sample and conducted multigroup analyses to examine potential age group and gender differences. Globally, our results show evidence for personality change following career success and also that personality predicts career success.

Reciprocal Influences between Career Success and Personality.

The results of the cross-lagged analyses gave some evidence for the notion that career success prompts changes in personality. Higher income preceded a decrease in neuroticism, but an increase in openness. More prestige preceded an increase in openness and a decrease in extraversion. The direction of the relations for neuroticism and openness were expected, with success supporting the developmental trend of personality towards functional maturity over time as indicated by less neuroticism and more openness (Roberts and Wood, 2006).

The relation between neuroticism and income was reciprocal and negative, which confirms previous research in a smaller U.S. sample assessed with two measurement waves over 10 years (Sutin et al., 2009). These results suggest that neuroticism is a hindrance to the attainment of objective career success, presumably because achieving career success necessitates emotional stability, and dealing with stressful work challenges and uncertainties in a productive way. Based on the corresponsive principle (Roberts et al., 2003), the results moreover imply that attaining and sustaining success poses social role demands that are contrary to neuroticism, which leads successful people to suppress and decrease their neurotic tendencies over time.

The relation between openness and success was reciprocal and positive, also confirming our assumption and previous results that assessed the relation between upward job changes and openness in a representative Australian sample (NieƟ and Zacher, 2015). The findings suggest that openness is a resource for the attainment of objective career success, presumably because attaining and maintaining success necessitates meeting intellectual role demands, such as being open to new ideas and opportunities or finding innovative solutions to challenges and problems at work. In turn, meeting such demands would activate and strengthen openness over time.

We had expected that extraversion would increase, not decrease, as a consequence of success. Previous research showed that aspects of extraversion, such as positive emotionality, are important for attaining success (Le et al., 2014Roberts et al., 2003). However, some research found that while extraversion may be predictive of attaining positions with certain occupational characteristics, these same characteristics do not necessarily predict changes in extraversion (Wille and De Fruyt, 2014). Thus, it may be that once individuals attain a certain level of prestige, there is less need to be sociable, because one's position in interpersonal contexts is defined by one's status, and less by one's social relations. Moreover, successful individuals might depend less on the support from others, decreasing their need to be sociable. Hence, our findings suggest that being in a prestigious occupation might decrease sociable role demands, resulting in decreases of extraversion over time.

In terms of personality predicting success, we also observed that conscientiousness predicted a decrease in income, which goes against meta-analytic findings of a positive association between conscientiousness and salary and promotions (Ng et al., 2005Ng and Feldman, 2014). However, research on the relation between conscientiousness and success has not produced consistent results, with several studies reporting no significant relation between conscientiousness and objective career success (e.g., Nyhus and Pons, 2005Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). This suggests that the relation between conscientiousness and objective career success is not straightforward. The negative predictive effect of conscientiousness in our sample might be explained in the way that conscientious individuals tend to select conventional occupations (Barrick et al., 2003) which in some cases may include jobs with a lower salary (Ghetta et al., 2018). In addition, it may be that individuals with higher levels of conscientiousness may prefer to fulfill the duties in their current jobs and not look for higher success opportunities, which in turn, results in a decrease in income over time. In addition, some work demands associated with increased objective success, such as leading and supervising, might be in contradiction to typical aspects of high conscientiousness, such as rigidity or perfectionism, leading successful individuals to lower their manifestations of conscientiousness over time to achieve a better fit.

Our examinations on how career success predicts subsequent changes in personality also make a more general contribution to the investigation of the corresponsive principle of personality development (Roberts et al., 2003). Based on this perspective, we assumed the same traits that predict career success should also change as a result of career success and that attaining and maintaining objective success poses demands that trigger personality adjustment processes. We found support for corresponsive mechanisms for neuroticism and openness. For extraversion, success predicted a change in this trait, but this trait did not predict changes in success.

For agreeableness, no significant relations were observed in either direction. This is in contrast to research showing that agreeableness is negatively related to objective career success (Judge et al., 2012Ng et al., 2005) and that individuals in positions with more responsibilities showed slower increases in agreeableness over time (Wille and De Fruyt, 2014). However, other studies found that more prosocial individuals (a characteristic closely related to agreeableness) have higher incomes (Eriksson et al., 2018). It could be that the relation with career success is thus more complex and moderated by other factors, such as occupation or organization. For example, in a more competitive climate where individual contributions are highly valued, agreeableness might be less positive for objective career success compared to in environments where cooperation and team performance are more important (Bolino and Grant, 2016). Also, being successful might cause individuals to be less depended on others and thus reduce their agreeableness. However, it could also be that the security of having achieved success might induce individual to become more invested in (pro)social activities (Harari et al., 2017), potentially increasing their agreeableness over time. Future research could more closely examine under which conditions agreeableness might relative positively or negatively with career success.

To understand the nonsignificant findings, it is also important to remember that objective career success and personality do not develop in a vacuum, and it is the merit of the social investment principle to have pointed attention to the different roles that people take up during the life course and their potential impact on personality development processes. For example, research showed that life events such as child birth or unemployment can have a meaningful impact on personality change (Denissen et al., 2019). Such live events could also affect the attainment of objective career success and can thus affect the relations between success and personality change in many ways that our study could not account for. As such, when applying the social investment principle and the corresponsive mechanism, it seems necessary to attend to multiple influences of personality development.

An inherent difficulty in empirically examining the claims of the social investment principle is determining at what time people start to invest in a particular role, and how investment in different roles at the same time works out across a longer time frame for individuals. Investing in two different roles at the same time may affect personality in similar ways, hence strengthening changes in a particular trait, but roles may also affect traits in opposite ways, without noticeable change. A promotion towards a more managerial job with more responsibilities and work demands may make someone more emotionally stable (i.e., lower in neuroticism), whereas a baby at home may challenge that person's neuroticism score in the opposite direction (Denissen et al., 2019). Such examples resulting from the social investment principle illustrate the complexities to demonstrate its claims and predictions.

Our findings also have important implications for vocational and counselling psychology research which is mostly focused on assessing traits as relatively stable predictors of career choices, vocational behavior, occupational attainment, and occupational niche-finding (Brown and Hirschi, 2013). Extending this literature, our study shows that occupational attainment can lead to changes in personality also in adulthood and that personality traits are thus more dynamically linked with vocational behavior and attainment than typically assumed. This insight could for example inform future theory and research on the social cognitive career theory (SCCT; Lent and Brown, 2013Lent et al., 1994) which acknowledges that more distal person inputs in terms of personality traits can have important effects on vocational interests, career choices, performance, and career self-management behaviors. Our findings could extend this framework by investigating how career attainments can have feedback effects not only on more proximal but also more distal person factors, thereby acknowledging even more dynamic social cognitive processes in career development. Similarly, in career construction theory (Savickas, 2013) the framework of adaptivity, adaptability, adaptive responses, and adaptation (Hirschi et al., 2015) sees traits as components of adaptivity which predicts other outcomes. In extension, our findings suggest that adaptation outcomes could also lead to changes in adaptivity.

Moderating Effects.

Our multigroup comparisons showed no evidence for age group or gender differences in how personality traits and career success impact each other. While previous research has shown that personality change is most prominent in young adulthood (Schwaba and Bleidorn, 2018), our results show that career success and personality relate to each other in uniform ways across age. This suggests that sustained social investment in the work role, and the attainment of objective career success, can have an impact on individuals' personality not only in early or middle adulthood (Roberts et al., 2003Roberts and Mroczek, 2008) but throughout the entire working lifespan into older age. Similarly, the impact that personality can have on career success attainment seems to remain consistent across age too. This suggests that the importance of personal characteristics for objective career success is not limited to the early career years, but that personality remains an influential factor throughout one's career.

Our results also showed that there are no differences between men and women in how success relates to personality change. This finding advances previous research focusing on gender differences in the relation between personality and success (Gelissen and de Graaf, 2006Mueller and Plug, 2006Nyhus and Pons, 2005). Our results are line with previous research showing that developmental trends of personality do not differ for men and women (Damian et al., 2018). Thus, while men and women may experience the work role differently and may attain differing salaries and levels of occupational prestige, the way that career success and personality impact each other seems consistent for men and women. Overall, our findings suggest that the attainment and maintenance of objective career success poses demands on personality traits that are comparable across age groups and gender, which leads to comparable effects of success on personality change across groups.

Limitations.

Our study has some notable strengths that include the use of a large, representative, heterogeneous sample spanning adulthood; cross-lagged analyses with three measurement points over several years; the consideration of age group and gender as moderators; and the use of objective indicators of career success. Nonetheless, some limitations of this study should be kept in mind when considering the results. First, several of the expected relations between success and personality were not confirmed in our study. Because we examined a representative and large sample and conducted a series of robustness checks, the nonsignificant findings are unlikely to result from sample bias or lack of statistical power. More likely is the interpretation that changes in income and occupational prestige are influenced by multiple factors, and so are changes in personality. This results in overall small direct effects, that in some cases become negligible. The relatively small effects found in our study thus caution against overstating the effects of success on personality. However, it is important to interpret effect sizes according to a meaningful benchmark (Funder and Ozer, 2019). We report cross-lagged effects, which take into account the stability of the construct and autoregressive effects over time. Because the examined constructs in our study are very stable, small cross-lagged effects can be expected. Indeed, the effects sizes reported in our study are comparable to the average cross-lagged effects between personality traits (e.g., self-esteem, positive emotionality) and other variables (e.g., social relationships, depression) reported in meta-analyses (Harris and Orth, 2019Khazanov and Ruscio, 2016). It is also important to note that while all observed effects were small, small effects might be consequential over time (Funder and Ozer, 2019), and even small changes in personality can have a meaningful impact on an individual's life (Roberts et al., 2006). Second, the personality measure used in this study only included three items per personality trait. While the applied measure is comparable to other longer measures of personality (Donnellan and Lucas, 2008), the full scope of each personality trait is not covered. For example, the extraversion items in the applied measure cover sociability, but to a lesser extent positive emotions and energy. Investigations into personality facets and how these might change as a result of work success (Sutin et al., 2009) could therefore not be conducted. This could be important as research has shown that changes in traits (e.g., extraversion) can depend on which facets of the trait are investigated (Roberts et al., 2006Soto et al., 2011a). It is thus possible that we failed to detect changes in specific facets of the examined traits.

Future Research.

Our study hypotheses were based on the corresponsive mechanism within the neosocioanalytic model of personality (Roberts et al., 2003). However, we were not able to directly test which specific expectations, norms, and rewards associated with career success lead to changes in traits. One area for future research would thus be to investigate possible mechanisms that explain why experiencing success at work leads to changes in personality. The social investment principle suggests that psychological role commitment is relevant for personality change (Lodi-Smith and Roberts, 2007). Hence, role involvement and commitment or job satisfaction may be possible mediators, or moderators, in the link between success and personality change. Furthermore, the expectations, norms, and demands associated with roles are an important source of personality change (Lodi-Smith and Roberts, 2007Woods et al., 2019). Thus, future research may want to investigate to what extent the specific expectations, norms, and demands associated with successful positions, and the resulting behavior of the individual, prompt personality development. In situations where there is a clear behavior difference, as well as a clearer trait-behavior link, it may be more likely to observe the corresponsive mechanism at work.

Public Confidence in the Police: The degree of confidence in the government as a whole is by far the largest determinant of how much confidence they feel in the police; no factors other than race play a clear role; in short, all this is mainly party politics

Kelley, Jonathan, MDR Evans, and Charlotte Corday. 2021. “Crisis, Plunge, and Recovery of Public Confidence in the Police: Data from Six National Surveys.” SocArXiv. April 19. doi:10.31235/osf.io/ydaru

Abstract: This paper depicts the trajectory of Americans' confidence in their police across five months before, during, and after the nation was riveted by Minnesota police murdering a Black civilian and the implications thereof for our civic community and our national commitment to equal protection. Data from the International Social Science Survey and the international WVS/EVS surveys show that Americans' confidence in their police is, on average, fairly typical of other advanced societies, coming 30th out of 110 nations worldwide. Within the US there was sharp political divergence. Democrats' confidence in the police plunged dramatically around the time of the killing, and then rebounded even more strongly later. But this was only among Democrats. Republicans' views were stable across the period. Regression analysis reveals that that this pattern holds controlling for social and demographic factors, including race. The patterns of change in confidence in the police were replicated for trust in the police. In addition, Blacks and Whites were equally confident in the police across most of the period, except that shortly after the murder Black's confidence plunged briefly and temporarily lower than their White peers'; the subsequent rebound in confidence was especially large among Blacks. Further multivariate analysis reveals that the degree of confidence people feel in the government as a whole is by far the largest determinant of how much confidence they feel in the police. Sociodemographic factors other than race play no clear role. Racial prejudice is irrelevant. In short, all this is mainly party politics.


English language: In a broad range of settings involving both spoken and written speech, and with varying degrees of formality, women do not use euphemisms more than men

Kapron-King, Anna, and Yang Xu. 2021. “A Quantitative Evaluation of Gender Asymmetry in Euphemism.” PsyArXiv. April 23. doi:10.31234/osf.io/d4k6r

Abstract: Gender has long been discussed as a possible factor in how people speak differently. One gender-based difference asserted by scholars is that women use euphemisms more than men. Although there have been a number of studies investigating gender differences in language, the claim about euphemism usage has not been tested comprehensively. Using four large text corpora of English, we evaluate the claim that women use euphemisms more than men do through a quantitative analysis. We assembled a list of 106 euphemism-taboo pairs to analyze their relative use by each gender in the corpora. Our results do not show that women use euphemisms with a higher proportion than men. We repeated the analysis using different, more selective subsets of the euphemism-taboo pairs list and found that our result was robust. Our study indicates that in a broad range of settings involving both spoken and written speech, and with varying degrees of formality, women do not use euphemisms more than men.



Fathers across Western populations tend to provide more care to sons than daughters; may (at least in part) be due to differences in fitness returns to paternal direct investments by child’s sex

Why the Son-bias in Caregiving? Testing Sex-differences in the Associations Between Paternal Caregiving and Child Outcomes in England. Emily H. Emmott, Ruth Mace. Journal of Family Issues, July 18, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X20941902

Abstract: Studies show that fathers across Western populations tend to provide more care to sons than daughters. Following a human behavioral ecological framework, we hypothesize that son-biases in fathering may (at least in part) be due to differences in fitness returns to paternal direct investments by child’s sex. In this study, we investigate sex-differences in the associations between paternal caregiving and children’s outcomes in stable, two-parent families. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we test whether paternal caregiving in early childhood is associated with different effects on children’s school test scores and behavioral difficulties by children’s sex. Overall, we find that paternal caregiving is associated with higher school test scores and lower behavioral difficulty scores, but the association between paternal caregiving and school test scores was stronger for boys. Our findings highlight possible sex-differences in returns to paternal caregiving for certain domains of child outcomes in England.

Keywords: child care, quantitative, father–child relationship, parent/child relations, gender and family

In the current study, we investigated the possible effects of paternal caregiving on child outcomes in a UK sample and explored whether this is dependent on child’s sex. Previous studies on fathers in Western populations have tended to focus on father absence or fathering relationships/attitudes. Here we investigated the association between paternal direct caregiving behavior throughout early childhood and child outcomes, providing additional evidence around the importance of father involvement in stable two-parent families in England.

Controlling for household and parental characteristics, we found that paternal caregiving predicted higher test scores and lower behavioral difficulty scores for both boys and girls. This is in line with previous studies suggesting that paternal caregiving has beneficial effects on child development in Western contexts (e.g., Jeynes, 2014Sarkadi et al., 2008). However, the positive association between paternal caregiving and school test scores was stronger for boys: Both boys and girls achieved relatively similar levels of test scores when paternal caregiving was high but boys who experienced less paternal caregiving had notably lower school test scores compared to girls. Our results suggest that a lack of paternal caregiving may have greater detrimental effects on the educational outcomes of boys in our UK sample. While the exact mechanisms behind these findings are unclear, previous studies have found that parental involvement is positively associated with student motivation (Gonzalez-DeHass et al., 2005), and the association between parental involvement and children’s educational outcomes may be mediated by children’s own perception of competence (Topor et al., 2010). Given that boys tend to have lower student motivation than girls (such as less focus and persistence; Martin, 2004), it is possible that paternal caregiving has a stronger influence on improving such pathways for boys. Overall, our findings are in line with the broader discussion around the “greater vulnerability” of boys, where boys are thought to be more sensitive to stressful environments and require greater levels of parental investments to achieve better outcomes (Amato & Keith, 1991).

Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find evidence of sex-differences between paternal caregiving and children’s behavioral difficulties in our data. While the reasons behind this null result are unclear, we note that previous studies which found sex-dependent associations between father absence/involvement and behavioral difficulties in the U.S. samples focused on adolescent outcomes (e.g., Carlson, 2006Cobb-Clark & Tekin, 2014), and emerging evidence suggests adolescence is a particularly important period for socio-emotional development (Blakemore & Mills, 2014Steinberg, 2005). Therefore, one possibility is that the effects of paternal caregiving on socio-emotional outcomes do not differ by sex in childhood but manifests itself in adolescence. As our study focused on early childhood (before age 10), it is possible that our sample of children was too young to observe any sex-differences in the associations between paternal caregiving and behavioral difficulties.

Finally, despite sex-differences in the reported patterns of maternal caregiving in our data, we found no evidence of sex-differences in the associations between maternal caregiving and behavioral difficulty scores despite daughter-biases in maternal investments. This may be due to the ceiling effect of our maternal caregiving measure, therefore we advise caution around inference.

Taken together, our study adds to the current limited evidence around potential sex-differences in the association between direct caregiving by fathers and children’s outcomes in the UK. Taking an HBE approach, we hypothesized that the well-evidenced son-biases in fathering across the United States/Western European populations may be driven by differential fitness returns to parental investment (as measured by child quality), where paternal caregiving is more beneficial to sons than daughters. Our hypothesis was partially supported, where low paternal caregiving had a greater detrimental effect on the school test scores of boys than girls, meaning the marginal fitness returns to paternal direct investments may be higher when investing in sons.

Biases in paternal caregiving and son-preferences tend to be explored in terms of sociocultural norms (e.g., Braun et al., 2011Bulanda, 2004). We suggest that such norms may be embedded within a socioecological system where fathers who preferentially invest in sons receive “greater payoffs.” Given the complexities of human behavior, however, it is unlikely that sex-differences in educational attainment is the only or primary driver for the son-bias in paternal caregiving. Rather, differences in the returns to caregiving may act as an additional factor influencing fathering within the broader bio-social pathways in Western populations: Societal biases which lead to son-preferences may emerge from, and/or are reinforced by, sex-differences in the benefits of paternal care.

Limitations

We highlight several limitations: First, the current study focuses on the possible impact of paternal caregiving within relatively stable two-parent households, where biological fathers and biological mothers are both consistently present. This sample is therefore likely to capture a particular sub-population of parents and children in the ALSPAC data. Our study does not address the impact of paternal caregiving from non-resident fathers, and it is unclear whether there is a difference in the effects of paternal care on child development by household stability. Second, our ALSPAC sample is from a relatively ethnically and culturally homogenous area in South West England, with 95% of the children in the final sample reported as being White. As gender-roles and sociocultural contexts can vary by ethnicity (Harris, 1994), the “payoffs” of fathering may also differ—meaning we cannot be confident that the identified association between paternal caregiving and child outcomes will be present among households with other cultural backgrounds. Third, as highlighted earlier, our current data likely suffer from a ceiling effect regarding maternal caregiving. We therefore call for caution regarding the interpretation of our findings around maternal caregiving and children’s outcomes. Fourth, our measure of caregiving is derived from the frequency of various caregiving and play activities as reported by the mother and is subject to maternal response bias. We note that measuring activity frequency rather than perceived caregiving quality may mitigate some bias, and we control for possible confounders which may influence over—or under-reporting of paternal activities. Finally, we do not know how our caregiving measure relates to caregiving quality, parenting style differences, and time investments. For instance, reading a book to a child every day could equally be a 5 minutes of daily reading with minimal engagement between parent and child or 30 minutes of daily reading with active teaching.

Our findings may be strengthened by future research which explores the costs and benefits of paternal caregiving by children’s sex in different socioecological contexts. For example, are the costs and benefits of paternal caregiving in the 1990s different from the 2010s? Do they differ by household socioeconomic position? Such questions may be better addressed by conducting within-household comparisons, investigating the effect of paternal caregiving and child outcomes between different-sex siblings (thereby addressing unobserved heterogeneity to an extent). Finally, for a holistic understanding of why fathers tend to invest more in sons over daughters in many Western contexts, there is a need to develop an in-depth understanding of the bio-social pathways between fathering and child outcomes. While our current study highlights the potential differences in the effects of paternal caregiving between boys and girls, it is not clear why this difference exists, and what impact this may have on sociocultural norms. As such, we encourage future research to consider both the costs and benefits of paternal caregiving in terms of biological fitness as well as sociocultural determinants of paternal care.