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Sunday, January 16, 2022

The effect of gender and parenting daughters on judgments of morally controversial companies

Niszczota P, BiaƂek M (2021)
PLoS ONE 16(12): e0260503.


Earlier findings suggest that men with daughters make judgments and decisions somewhat in line with those made by women. In this paper, we attempt to extend those findings, by testing how gender and parenting daughters affect judgments of the appropriateness of investing in and working for morally controversial companies (“sin stocks”). To do so, in Study 1 (N = 634) we investigate whether women judge the prospect of investing in sin stocks more harshly than men do, and test the hypothesis that men with daughters judge such investments less favorably than other men. In Study 2 (N = 782), we investigate the willingness to work in morally controversial companies at a significant wage premium. Results show that—for men—parenting daughters yields harsher evaluations of sin stocks, but no evidence that it lowers the propensity to work in such companies. This contrasts to the effect of gender: women reliably judge both investment and employment in morally controversial companies more harshly than men do. We suggest that an aversion towards morally controversial companies might be a partial determinant of the gender gap in wages.

From the Discussion section

There are several insights from our work. Firstly, we investigate laypeople instead of people of high social status, such as CEOs, members of congress, or judges. This would be consequential if parental investment in sons and daughters might depend on the social status of the parent. Studying laypeople makes our findings more relevant to the general population, and to more common decisions (e.g., concerning what mutual funds to invest in). Secondly, our models are aimed at directly testing whether the effect of parenting daughters is different across men and women. This would be expected from the female socialization hypothesis: parenting daughters might make the preferences of men more similar to those exhibited by women, as it would help them adopt alternative perspectives on issues in which the opinions of men and women might differ. Yet, they would not cause a shift in the preferences of women, as they have the same gender as their daughters. Our findings show that parenting daughters leads to harsher evaluations of morally controversial investments, but only in men. In fact, women parenting a daughter judge morally controversial investments more favorably than women without daughters, a somewhat unexpected finding.

Our results showed a boundary condition of the daughter effect. In our case, a full conceptual replication of the findings of Cronqvist and Yu would translate into a more negative view of morally controversial companies as investment propositions, and a lower willingness to be employed in such companies (at a significant premium). We observed the daughter effect in the former, but not in the latter decision. This is noteworthy, considering that the gender effect was of similar strength in Study 1 (that concerned investment) and Study 2 (that concerned employment). In short, gender differences are robust to the factors that affect the daughter effect, but these are yet to be discovered. We need to point out that we are not the first to show no clear support for the daughter effect; however, see for a methodological comment on that particular finding). Moreover, in one study, Dahl and colleagues showed that the birth of a child (even daughters, if the first-born child was not female) makes male CEOs less generous to employees.