To have or not to have : the role of desire to have children and gender in visual representations of babies
Past research has shown that desire to have children (DTC) and gender play a role in expectations about having children whether individuals construe becoming a parent as a positive or a negative experience. The present study aims to extend previous literature by studying for the first time visual representations of babies. In this research, the reverse correlation method was used to examine how men and women’s DTC is linked with their visual representations of babies. Participants’ visual representations of babies was evaluated according to cuteness and temperament of the baby image. Results showed that women represented babies as cuter compared with men. In addition, participants with high DTC represented babies as cuter compared with participants with low DTC. Men with high DTC represented babies as cuter compared to men with low DTC. However, baby representations of women with high DTC and baby representations of women with low DTC did not significantly differ from each other on cuteness. Both men and women with high DTC had more easygoing baby representations compared to men and women with low DTC. Nonetheless, the link between DTC and representations of a prototypical baby’s temperament was stronger for men than for women, parallel to the findings on cuteness. Moreover, women represented babies more as a baby girl than as a baby boy whereas men represented babies more as a baby boy rather than a baby girl. By investigating visual representations, this study extends past work which studied the role of gender and DTC on expectations about parenthood.