People feel ‘anger, disapproval and disgust’ towards couples that decide not to have children

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People feel ‘anger, disapproval and disgust’ towards couples that have decided not to have children, a new study has revealed.

The study based in the US and published in the March 2017 edition of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, found that people who opt out of parenthood are stigmatised for the decision.

Participants that took part in the research had to read a vignette about a married adult person and then rate their perceptions of the person’s degree of psychological fulfilment and their feelings toward the person. The vignette varied only in terms of the portrayed person’s gender and whether they had chosen to have children.

The author of the report, Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University, said, “What’s remarkable about our findings is the moral outrage participants reported feeling toward a stranger who decided not to have children.”

“Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical, or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

“Having children is obviously a more typical decision, so perhaps people are rightfully surprised when they meet a married adult who, with their partner, has chosen to not have children.”

“That they are also outraged by child-free people is what’s novel about this work.”

“Consistent with many personal anecdotes, participants rated voluntarily child-free men and women as significantly less fulfilled than men and women with children.”

“The effect was driven by feelings of moral outrage – anger, disapproval and disgust – toward the voluntarily child-free people.”

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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