Perceiving the division of family work to be unfair: Do social comparisons, enjoyment, and competence matter?

  • Grote N
  • Naylor K
  • Clark M
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Past research has revealed that women, working or not, perform more family labor (i.e., housework and child care) than do men. Yet, women often do not perceive this as unfair. Drawing on the theoretical work of L. Thompson (1991) and B. Major (1993), the authors hypothesized that this paradox might be explained by women perceiving greater fairness in the lopsided division of family work (a) when they compare the amount of family work they do with other women (who perform similar amounts) rather than with the spouse; (b) when they enjoy performing family work; and/or (c) when they and their spouses believe that they are especially competent at family work. Data from a 3-panel, longitudinal study of married couples expecting their first child were consistent with the second and third predictions but not the first. Further, prospective analyses suggested that perceiving inequity in family work leads wives and husbands to make more frequent comparisons with the spouse and sometimes with same-sex others.

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  • Nancy K. Grote

  • Kristen E. Naylor

  • Margaret S. Clark

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