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The relationship of empathy and self-esteem to the level of paternal involvement in child care Schein, Howard Walter


There is a large body of work on the study of the relationship between parenting and child personality, but very little on the relationship between parenting and parental personality characteristics, and more specifically fathers (Baruch & Barnett, 1986b; Demo et al., 1987). The present research focuses on the relationship between paternal involvement in child care and the father's level of empathy and self esteem. A sample of 52 subjects was drawn largely from the academic community including 36 fathers and 16 non-fathers. This study is correlational in nature, but the comparison sample of non-fathers was used to determine any possible differences on the dependent variables among father's level of involvement, and between nonfathers and father's levels of paternal involvement. A questionnaire administered to the fathers requested demographic information, also contained the Empathic Concern (EC) and Perspective-taking (PT) scales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980), the Rosenberg (1979) Self-esteem Scale (SE), and the Paternal Involvement in Child Care Index (PI) by (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1985). The non-fathers received the same package, but were not requested to answer the PI scale. Subhypotheses for a relationship between recollection of paternal involvement and present paternal involvement, and the relationship between desire to become a parent and EC, PT, and SE, are also explored. The results indicated that there was not a significant positive relationship between paternal involvement and any of PT, EC, or SE. Analyses of the within father, and father versus nonfather groups indicates some support for higher self-esteem in the high paternal versus low paternal involvement groups. An inverse relationship is suggested between empathic concern and paternal involvement. Near significant results support these findings in the correlational analyses with paternal involvement. Findings for sub-hypotheses include support for a positive relationship between desire to father and perspective-taking for non-fathers. Results suggest enough support for further research in this area, including longitudinal research to determine potential direction of effect for any relationship between father's personality development specifically, or parents generally.

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