Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Some research suggests that adults as parents, in particular, may orient their moral reasoning and socialization of children differentially by gender (Lollis, Ross, & Leroux, 1996; Pratt, Amold, & Hilbers, 1998; Pratt, Golding, Hunter, & Sampson, 1988). The present study investigates the extent to which mothers and fathers differ in their moral orientations with respect to socializing young children, specifically in their use of a narrative or storytelling mode. The present study also examines the extent to which gender of the child influences the orientation of parents’ socialization narratives told to and about their young children. Thirty married couples, whose first child was approximately four and a half years of age, participated in this study. Two personal narratives were obtained from both parents at separate times. The first narrative involved discussing a family story about an event from the parents’ childhood when he or she had learned an important value. The second narrative involved each parent completing a value choice task and then providing a narrative on a teaching or socialization experience with the child, following the procedure of Pratt and his colleagues (1998). Consistent with previous findings (Pratt et al., 1998), the results revealed that mothers were somewhat more likely than fathers to express stronger levels of care in these narratives, although this finding was only marginally significant (p < .06). Furthermore, mothers and fathers were quite different in the patterns of care expressed to their sons and daughters. Specifically, fathers were significantly more likely to consider justice issues in their narratives regarding their sons than their daughters, whereas mothers did not differentiate by child gender. This finding is consistent with the gender socialization literature, in which fathers are more gender-differentiated in socializing their children than are mothers. The present study highlights the practical usefulness of this narrative technique in studying value socialization within a family context. Future research is needed to further examine what role gender and narrative play in the development of moral thinking.

Convocation Year


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