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The relationship between anticipatory socialization and unfulfilled expectation of the father Pickeral, Terry L.

Abstract

Prior to presenting a theoretical conceptualization of role acquisition we review existing research concerned to explain the transition to parenthood. We find (1) inconsistent data and (2) the fact that social scientists have long ignored the role of father in this analysis and in other areas of family interaction. The areas of interest selected for this study is the acquisition of the role of father for the first time. We present a conceptual framework which explains differences in the amounts of discrepancy between role expectations and role performance experienced upon the acquisition of a role. Developed within this framework is the notion that aspects of roles are learned before their acquisition and this amount of learning (anticipatory socialization) is positively related to the amount of discrepancy experienced by the actor. Such an approach to role acquisition leads us to the hypothesis that a first-time father who did not have younger siblings will experience a greater amount of discrepancy between expectations for his role vis-a-vis his wife, his child, and others, and the actual behavior regarding these roles upon the arrival of the firstborn, than will a first-time father who has younger siblings. To measure these variables we develop an interview schedule to determine the number of younger siblings of the first-time father, their role expectations for themselves and others relevant to the role of father, the corresponding role performances, and if a discrepancy between the two exists, whether its magnitude is of such significance as to hinder their performance as a father. There were ten items on which these latter four variables yield information. This instrument is administered to thirty-five first-time fathers, who are students at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The respondents are divided into two groups for analysis: an experimental group (i.e., those with younger siblings) and a control group (i.e., those without younger siblings). Our prediction is that those in the experimental group will experience a. smalierramount of role expectation-performance discrepancy than those in the control group. We present two analyses testing our hypothesis. The first consists of a comparison of the means of the discrepancies on each of the ten items for the two groups. We find, as predicted, the control group experienced a greater amount of discrepancy on eight of the ten items and on the overall means of the amount of discrepancy. Secondly, we analyzed the significance (i.e., how much the discrepancy was seen by the respondent to hinder his role performance) of the reported discrepancy. This analysis yields measures that show that (1) on five of the items the control group reported their discrepancies as more significant, (2.) on three items the experimental group reported their discrepancies as more significant, and (3) on the remaining two items the two groups reported the same amount of significant discrepancy: Thus, we find that not only do first-time fathers without younger siblings report a greater amount of discrepancy, but also indicate that such discrepancies are more.significant when compared to those first-time fathers with younger siblings. Our analysis of the data indicates support for our prediction. These results are interpreted as evidence for the utility of our conceptualization. We also find that, subsequent to having one younger sibling, the amount of expectation-performance discrepancy experienced by first-.time fathers does not decrease consistently as the number of younger, siblings increase. We discuss various weaknesses of the conceptualization, operationalization and methods utilized in the study, and offer suggestions for future research.

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