According to Robey, Cohen, and Epstein (1988), children may hold a naïve theory of affection, whereby they believe that their parents' affection for them is a finite resource for which they must compete against their siblings. Parents, conversely, are unlikely to view their own affection in the same way. Although research on naïve theories is often conducted with youngsters, we speculated that even adult children may perceive that they compete with their siblings for their parents' affection, and we tested the naïve theory of affection in a study of 115 dyads of adult men and their adult sons. As hypothesized, the sons' numbers of brothers and sisters were associated inversely with sons' reports of how much affection they received from their fathers but were unrelated to fathers' reports. Fathers' and sons' reports of fathers' affection were also linearly related to each other, but fathers reported being more affectionate with their sons than their sons reported them being. Results suggest that naïve theorizing about parental affection is not limited to young children but continues to affect familial experience in adulthood.
- Naïve theories
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science