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Gender stereotypes underlie child custody decisions

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract Using hypothetical divorce cases we examine the role of gender stereotypes in decisions about child custody. Good mothers received greater custody allocations than did good fathers across a tightly matched pair of vignettes in three culturally distinct samples: Argentina, Brazil, and the United States (Study 1). Two follow‐up studies indicated that the warmth dimension of stereotype content partly accounted for the asymmetry in custody awards: The proportion of maternal‐primary custody was predicted by the tendency to ascribe warmth‐related traits—such as friendliness, generosity, or trustworthiness—to mothers (Study 2) and associate them with female over male nouns (Study 3). We also found that endorsing shared custody mitigated the asymmetry in custody awards documented in our studies. Together, these results highlight the interplay of stereotyped attitudes and egalitarian commitments in the context of judicial decisions about child custody. - European Journal of Social Psychology, EarlyView.