Childless by choice? Attributions and attitudes concerning family size

Valerie LaMastro1
1Rowan University, United States
Cite this article:  LaMastro, V. (2001). Childless by choice? Attributions and attitudes concerning family size. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 29(3), 231-244.

Volume 29 Issue 3 | e1080 | Published: May 2001 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2001.29.3.231

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The attributions of naive perceivers regarding the voluntary or involuntary nature of a target couple’s family size were investigated, along with the personality characteristics ascribed to persons with families of varying sizes. Undergraduate students (N = 274) read one of 24 paragraphs describing a couple who varied with respect to number of children and male/female employment status. Targets were rated on 28 personality characteristics and 7 relationship quality statements. Participants provided attributions for the couple’s family size and completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974). Results indicated that, overall, perceivers attributed family size to voluntary factors. Childless individuals were rated less positively regardless of the attributions made for their childlessness. Parents of any size family were perceived similarly. The Bem classification of the perceiver was unrelated to judgments. Applications to understanding the support needs of infertile couples are discussed.

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