Effect of Gender and Caretaking Role on Parent—Infant Interaction

Part of the Topics in Developmental Psychobiology book series (TDP)


After decades in which developmental psychologists focused exclusively on mother—infant relationships, researchers have recently begun to study father—infant relationships as well (Lamb, 1978; Parke, 1979). These studies confirm that many fathers interact sensitively and responsively with their infants (Parke & Sawin, 1980) and that most infants form attachments to both their mothers and fathers at roughly the same age (Lamb, 19776). Despite such similarities between mother— and father—infant relationships, some important differences between maternal and paternal styles have also been identified. Mothers’ interactions tend to be centered around caretaking, whereas fathers’ interactions are characterized by play—especially physically stimulating play (Clarke-Stewart, 1978; Lamb, 1976, 1977b; Yogman, Dixon, Tronick, Als, Adamson, Lester, & Brazelton, 1977). Lamb (1978) has speculated that the distinctive sex stereotyped patterns of parent—infant interaction occupy an important place in the development of gender identity.


Parental Behavior Parental Gender Family Type Parental Leave Infant Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bakeman, R., & Brown, J. W. Behavioral dialogues: An approach to the assessment of mother-infant interaction. Child Development, 1977, 48, 195–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clarke-Stewart, K. A. And daddy makes three: The father’s impact on mother and child. Child Development, 1978, 49, 466–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Feiring, C. The preliminary development of a social systems model of early infant-mother attachment. Paper presented to the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, March 1976.Google Scholar
  4. Field, T. Interaction behaviors of primary versus secondary caretaker fathers. Developmental Psychology, 1978, 14, 183–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hoffman, L. W. Changes in family roles, socialization, and sex differences. American Psychologist, 1977, 32, 644–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hollingshead, A. B. The four factor index of social position. Unpublished manuscript, 1978. Available from the author, Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.Google Scholar
  7. Lamb, M. E. Interaction between eight-month-old children and their fathers and mothers. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development. New York: Wiley, 1976.Google Scholar
  8. Lamb, M. E. The development of mother-infant and father-infant attachments in the second year of life. Developmental Psychology,1977, 13,637–648.(a)Google Scholar
  9. Lamb, M. E. Father-infant and mother-infant interaction in the first year of life. Child Development, 1977, 48, 167–181. (b)Google Scholar
  10. Lamb, M. E. The father’s role in the infant’s social world. In J. Stevens & M. Mathews (Eds.), Mother/child, father/ child relationships. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1978.Google Scholar
  11. Parke, R. D. Perspectives on father-infant interaction. In J. D. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development. New York: Wiley, 1979.Google Scholar
  12. Parke, R. D., & O’Leary, S. Father-mother-infant interaction in the newborn period: Some findings, some observations, and some unresolved issues. In K. F. Riegel & J. Meacham (Eds.), The developing individual in a changing world (Vol.2). Social and environmental issues. The Hague: Mouton, 1976.Google Scholar
  13. Parke, R. D., & Sawin, D. B. The family in early infancy: Social interactional and attitudinal analyses. In F. A. Pedersen (Ed.), The father-infant relationship: Observational studies in a family setting. New York: Praeger, 1980.Google Scholar
  14. Parke, R. D., O’Leary S., & West, S. Mother-father-newborn interaction: Effects of maternal medication, labor, and sex of infant. Paper presented to the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., September 1972.Google Scholar
  15. Pedersen, F. A. Mother, father, and infant as an interactive system. Paper presented to the American Psychological Association, Chicago, September 1975.Google Scholar
  16. Pedersen, F. A., Anderson, B., & Cain, R. Parent-infant and husband-wife interactions observed at age 5 months. In F. A. Pedersen (Ed.), The father-infant relationship: Observational studies in a family setting. New York: Praeger, 1980.Google Scholar
  17. Rendina, I., & Dickerscheid, J. D. Father involvement with first-born infants. Family Coordinator, 1976, 25, 373–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rothbart, M., Furby, L., Kelly, S. R., & Hamilton, J. S. Development of a caretaker report temperament scale for use with 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month old infants. Paper presented to the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, March 1977.Google Scholar
  19. Stephenson, G. R., Smith, D. P., & Roberts, T. W. The SSR system: An open format event recording system with computerized transcription. Behavior Research Methods and Instrumentation, 1975, 7, 497–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Yogman, M. W., Dixon, S., Tronick, E., Als, H., Adamson, L., Lester, B., & Brazelton, T. B. The goals and structure of face-to-face interaction between infants and fathers. Paper presented to the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, March 1977.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GöteborgGöteborgSweden
  4. 4.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations