Research from Ohio State


Special to The Sunbury News



Dads are often having fun while moms work around the house

Study first to show how couples spend time minute-by-minute

COLUMBUS – For the first time, researchers have evidence of exactly what dads are doing while moms are taking care of housework or tending to their child.

The results will be disappointing for those who expected more gender equity in modern society.

The study found that three months after the birth of their first child, on days when couples were not working, men were most often relaxing while women did housework or child care.

In contrast, when men were taking care of the kids or working around the house, their partners were most often doing the same thing.

One telling statistic: Women spent 46 to 49 minutes relaxing while men did child care or housework on their day off. But men spent about twice that amount of time in leisure – about 101 minutes – while their partners did some kind of work.

“It’s frustrating. Household tasks and child care are still not being shared equally, even among couples who we expected would have more egalitarian views of how to share parenting duties,” said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

Kamp Dush conducted the study, published online in the journal Sex Roles, with Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, a professor of human sciences at Ohio State, and Jill Yavorsky, who received her Ph.D. at Ohio State and is now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The research included 52 couples who participated in the New Parents Project, an Ohio State study of mostly highly educated, white, dual-earner couples from the Columbus area who were having their first child.

“It is a small sample. It is not the definitive answer, and is mostly relevant to similar couples. But we need to look into this further and understand how dual-earner couples are sharing housework and child care,” Kamp Dush said.

One reason for the small sample is the difficulty of doing this kind of study, Kamp Dush said. The researchers are not aware of any other study in which both members of a couple completed detailed time diaries of what they were doing on the same days and at the same times.

The researchers asked the couples to complete their own time diaries for a workday and a non-workday during the third trimester of the woman’s pregnancy and about three months after the baby’s birth.

On workdays after the baby was born, the amount of time women and men spent doing housework and child care was more equal than on non-workdays, although women still did slightly more work, the results showed.

But men made up for it on non-workdays, when the amount of time they spent in leisure activities actually doubled – from 47 to 101 minutes – between when their partner was pregnant and three months after the birth.

“On workdays, parents are more evenly splitting housework and childcare. It’s very much ‘all hands on deck’ but when there is more time available on the weekend and parents are not so pressed to get everything done, then we see the emergence of gendered patterns and inequality where women do a lot more housework and childcare while he leisures,” Yavorsky said.

On their days off, men were relaxing 46 percent of the time while their partners did child care. In contrast, women were engaged in leisure only 16 percent of the time when their partners were taking care of their child.

Results were similar for housework, where fathers took 35 percent of the time off while their partner did tasks like cleaning. Women took 19 percent of the time off when men did housework.

Kamp Dush said these highly educated couples where both parents have jobs would be the ones you would expect to have worked out equitable arrangements for sharing housework and child care.

“I was expecting to see a lot more minutes where the couple was doing some kind of housework or child care together. I suspect the situation may be even less equitable for women who don’t have all the advantages of the couples in our sample,” she said.

There are steps both men and women can take to help even out the inequities found in this study, Kamp Dush said.

Men need to get in there and take care of their child and house, particularly on the weekends, she said. In some cases, moms may need to step back and let fathers do housework and child care tasks without hovering to make sure they meet her standards.

“Couples need to be having conversations, ideally before their baby is born, about how they are going to divide household tasks to make sure they are equitable,” she said.

“At the time we studied them, these couples were setting up routines that may last several years as the kids grow. Couples need to be having these conversations from the first few months.”

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Perpetrators of genocide say they’re ‘good people’

Study examined testimony of defendants in Rwandan violence

COLUMBUS – The men who were tried for their role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that killed up to 1 million people want you to know that they’re actually very good people.

That’s the most common way accused men try to account for their actions in testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, a new study has found.

Researchers examined more than 10,000 pages of testimony from 27 defendants at the ICTR to determine how these men tried to explain their involvement in the genocidal violence.

They found that an “appeal to good character” was used by defendants more than all other explanations combined to say why they weren’t guilty of the horrible crimes they were accused of committing.

“Genocide has been called the crime of crimes, and these accused perpetrators very much understood that,” said Hollie Nyseth Brehm, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“They were trying to protect their reputation. Rather than acknowledging their role, they emphasized what good people they were and talked about their good deeds and admirable character traits.”

Nyseth Brehm conducted the study with Emily Bryant of Boston University, Emily Brooke Schimke of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota. Their results appear online in the journal Social Problems and will be published in a future print edition.

In 1994, mass violence claimed up to 1 million lives in the East African nation of Rwanda. Most of the victims were Tutsi, killed by the majority Hutus. The United Nations created the ICTR and, between 1995 and 2015, 75 individuals were tried for planning and executing the violence.

For this study, the researchers focused on 27 defendants, all men, who testified on their own behalf for one to 17 days. They were political leaders, military leaders or wealthy businessmen. Nearly all were indicted for complicity in genocide and either genocide or conspiracy to commit genocide. Within this sample, 19 defendants received sentences and eight were acquitted. Convicted defendants received sentence ranging from 12 years to life in prison.

The researchers analyzed the testimony using a classic criminology theory that suggests people use five specific techniques to neutralize their guilt and justify their participation in criminal activities.

The techniques are denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of the victim, condemnation of the condemners and appeal to higher loyalties.

“When it comes to genocide, we like to think that the perpetrators are irredeemably evil, but they are not – they are psychologically normal people who are acting this way under social circumstances,” Nyseth Brehm said.

“After it is over, perpetrators use these and other techniques to explain to their friends and family – and themselves – why they behaved the way they did.”

The findings showed that the defendants used only two of these techniques frequently: denial of responsibility and condemnation of the condemners (attacking those who criticize them).

But they found two neutralization techniques that had not been identified before, one of them being appeal to good character.

“They argued that they were such good people that they couldn’t be guilty of genocidal crimes,” Nyseth Brehm said. “They often talked about how they actually saved Tutsis from the violence and advocated for peace.”

One defendant, talking about massacres near where he lived, testified, “I was saddened by that news as well as frightened.… I did not have enough means to act in that situation. However, I did not fold my arms. I did what I had to do and what I could do.”

Another way they asserted their good character was to say they had nothing against the Tutsis. “I never said the Tutsi are not full-fledged human beings,” one defendant said.

“Rather than acknowledging the bad things they had done, the defendants often tried to talk about their traits and actions that proved what good people they are,” Nyseth Brehm said.

The other new technique the researchers identified was victimization. The defendants would talk about how they and their family and friends were targeted for being Hutus. One former mayor who was tried said, “I felt it was possible for me to die because I had been under permanent threat. I was being persecuted.”

While some Hutus were indeed killed in Rwanda, Nyseth Brehm said that nearly all the violence was targeted against Tutsis.

The researchers found that more than one-third of defendants used the victimization and appeals to good character techniques between one and 12 times per day of testimony.

Defendants relied especially heavily on the appeal to good character technique – in fact, results showed that this technique was employed more than all the classic techniques combined.

Why were these two new neutralization techniques not identified earlier?

Nyseth Brehm said most studies that have examined genocidal violence have tried to theorize what perpetrators were thinking before the crime. This study is one of the few to highlight their explanations after the crimes.

“We were looking not at what enabled them to commit the crime, but how they made sense of it afterward. How could they justify what they did?” she said.

In other research she has done in Rwanda, Nyseth Brehm said she has seen how people involved in genocide have dealt with their guilt in ways consistent with this study.

“A lot of the people I have talked to in Rwanda have to convince themselves that they are good people as a way to move forward. They have difficulty coming to terms with what they did.”

How disliked classes affect college student cheating

College students’ feelings about class play role in misconduct

COLUMBUS – One of the tactics that discourages student cheating may not work as well in courses that college students particularly dislike, a new study has found.

Previous research suggests instructors who emphasize mastering the content in their classes encounter less student cheating than those who push students to get good grades.

But this new study found emphasizing mastery isn’t related as strongly to lower rates of cheating in classes that students list as their most disliked. Students in disliked classes were equally as likely to cheat, regardless of whether the instructors emphasized mastery or good grades.

The factor that best predicted whether a student would cheat in a disliked class was a personality trait: a high need for sensation, said Eric Anderman, co-author of the study and professor of educational psychology at The Ohio State University.

People with a high need for sensation are risk-takers, Anderman said.

“If you enjoy taking risks, and you don’t like the class, you may think ‘why not cheat.’ You don’t feel you have as much to lose,” he said.

Anderman conducted the study with Sungjun Won, a graduate student in educational psychology at Ohio State. It appears online in the journal Ethics & Behavior and will be published in a future print edition.

The study is the first to look at how academic misconduct might differ in classes that students particularly dislike.

“You could understand why students might be less motivated in classes they don’t like and that could affect whether they were willing to cheat,” Anderman said.

The researchers surveyed 409 students from two large research universities in different parts of the country.

The students were asked to answer questions about the class in college that they liked the least.

Participants were asked if they took part in any of 22 cheating behaviors in that class, including plagiarism and copying test answers from another student. The survey also asked students their beliefs about the ethics of cheating, their perceptions of how much the instructor emphasized mastery and test scores, and a variety of demographic questions, as well as a measure of sensation-seeking.

A majority of the students (57 percent) reported a math or science course as their most disliked. Large classes were not popular: Nearly half (45 percent) said their least favorite class had more than 50 students enrolled, while two-thirds (65 percent) said the course they disliked was required for their major.

The most interesting finding was that an emphasis on mastery or on test scores did not predict cheating in disliked classes, Anderman said.

In 20 years of research on cheating, Anderman said he and his colleagues have consistently found that students cheated less – and believed cheating was less acceptable – in classes where the goals were intrinsic: learning and mastering the content. They were more likely to cheat in classes where they felt the emphasis was on extrinsic goals, such as successful test-taking and getting good grades.

This study was different, Anderman said.

In classes that emphasized mastery, some students still believed cheating was wrong, even in their most-disliked class. But when classes are disliked, the new findings suggest a focus on mastery no longer directly protects against cheating behaviors. Nevertheless, there is still a positive relation between actual cheating and the belief that cheating is morally acceptable in those classes.

“When you have students who are risk-takers in classes that they dislike, the benefits of a class that emphasizes learning over grades seems to disappear,” he said.

But Anderman noted that this study reinforced results from earlier studies that refute many of the common beliefs about student cheating.

“All of the things that people think are linked to cheating don’t really matter,” he said.

“We examined gender, age, the size of classes, whether it was a required class, whether it was graded on a curve – and none of those were related to cheating once you took into account the need for sensation in this study,” he said. “And in other studies, the classroom goals were also important.”

The good news is that the factors that cause cheating are controllable in some measure, Anderman said. Classes can be designed to emphasize mastery and interventions could be developed to help risk-taking students.

“We can find ways to help minimize cheating,” he said.

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Special to The Sunbury News

Information for this story was provided by The Ohio State University.

Information for this story was provided by The Ohio State University.