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Birth order, sex of child, and maternal help-giving

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Abstract

As part of a larger study of birth order, sex of child, and mother—child interaction, mothers were asked to supervise their child's performance on memory and puzzle tasks. Subjects were 56 5-year-old boys and girls and their mothers, half with a same-sex older sibling, half with a same-sex younger sibling. Mothers showed no differences in spontaneous help-giving as a function of sex or birth order of child, but were more likely to give requested help and support to daughters than sons, and to respond contingently to daughters' mistakes. Implications of greater reinforced help-seeking for girls' orientations to achievement and problem-solving are considered.

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Author information

Correspondence to Mary K. Rothbart.

Additional information

The work for this study was financed in part by Public Health Service Predoctoral Fellowship 5F1MH20, 971-02 and Special Fellowship 1-F03-HD-49722-01 from the National Institutes of Health. The authors wish to express gratitude for the assistance of Dan Eisenberg in performing data analysis.

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Rothbart, M.K., Rothbart, M. Birth order, sex of child, and maternal help-giving. Sex Roles 2, 39–46 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289297

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Keywords

  • Large Study
  • Social Psychology
  • Birth Order
  • Child Interaction
  • Young Sibling