Parents’ choice to find out baby’s sex before birth reveals more than the gender of their offspring. According to a recent study from Ohio State University, a woman’s decision to learn her baby’s sex before birth may be an indicator of her child-rearing beliefs.
According to the researchers, mothers who are more open to new experiences, have higher levels of conscientiousness, and have more egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society tend to wait until delivery to learn their baby’s sex. Mothers who scored higher on a test of parenting perfectionism, meaning they had unrealistically high expectations, were slightly more likely to learn their baby’s sex in utero. Furthermore, mothers who reported higher levels of curiosity and independence were less likely to learn their baby’s sex before birth.
The research focused on 182 expectant mothers in Columbus, Ohio who participated in a study to track behaviors across the transition to parenthood. The research team administered a variety of tests to pregnant women to measure personality, gender role beliefs, and expectations regarding parenting perfectionism. Approximately two out of three of the expectant mothers in the study knew their baby’s sex before birth.
Mothers who knew the sex of their child before birth tended to have lower levels of education and lower household incomes, and were less likely to be married than mothers who waited for a delivery-room surprise.
Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, one of the members of the research team, believes this study is a starting point to address questions about the implications that this knowledge may have for future parenting.
The study will appear in an upcoming edition of Personality and Individual Differences.