THE EFFECT OF GENETIC-RELATEDNESS STATUS
ON THE EVALUATION OF
Sarah Lynn Mulcare
.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 1993
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Sarah Lynn Mulcare
has been approved
Mulcare, Sarah Lynn (M.A., Psychology)
The Effect of Genetic-Relatedness Status on the Evaluation of
Thesis directed by Professor Herman Aguinis
Because of modern reproductive techniques, children
today may be genetically linked in varying degrees to their
social parents. A child may be adopted (genetically
unrelated to either social parent), nonadopted (genetically
related to both parents), or "partially genetically related"
(e.g., born of artificial insemination with donor sperm and
thus genetically linked to the mother but not to the social
father). Starting from a sociocultural perspective, it was
hypothesized that being adopted or partially genetically
related (PGR) may be a stigmatizing or negative attribute
which would affect evaluations made of the child. It was
further hypothesized that because of gender differences in
reactions to infertility, especially male infertility, the
impact of genetic-relatedness status would depend on the
gender of the rater. Subjects were presented with a written
scenario in which a child was depicted as hurting another
intentionally, and were asked to rate the children on a
variety of scales, including pleasantness, honesty,
selfishness, goodness, gentleness, even temperedness,
aggressiveness, niceness, friendliness and kindness. The
results indicated that genetic-relatedness status itself is
not a negative attribute. However, an interaction effect
between genetic-relatedness status and rater gender was
found. Among female raters, being PGR could be considered a
negative attribute. Among male raters, a trend was noted
toward rating PGR children more favorably than adopted
children. One explanation for this finding is that women
view artificial insemination by donor (AID) unfavorably
because of the possible psychosocial ramifications of the
secrecy surrounding the AID procedure. Another explanation
is that biological motherhood is not a crucial element of
social motherhood. It was suggested that men may view AID
more favorably because it provides a means for men to escape
public discreditation for male infertility. It was also
suggested that biological relatedness (or at least the
illusion of biological relatedness) is crucial to men. These
findings are important because evaluations of children may
lead to expectations and, in turn, behavior. Thus, it is
vital to know and understand as much as possible about the
manner in which evaluations are affected by genetic-
relatedness status. Suggestions for future research are
This abstract accurately represents the content of the
candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
I. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ............................ 1
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................ 6
Infertility ........................................ 7
Social and Psychological Ramifications
of Infertility .................................. 7
The Importance of Biological Kinship ........... 11
Adoption .......................................... 15
Attitudes Toward Adoption ...................... 16
The Challenges of Being Adopted ................ 20
Genealogical Bewilderment ............... 21
Relinquishment .............................. 22
Outcomes for Adopted Children ............... 23
Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID) ............ 26
AID Secrecy and Its Ramifications .............. 27
Attitudes Toward AID ........................... 31
Sociobiological Perspective ....................... 32
Perception and Evaluation ......................... 35
The Present Study and Hypotheses ............... 36
III. METHOD ............................................ 40
Overview .......................................... 40
Subjects ........................................... 41
Procedure .......................................... 41
IV. RESULTS .......................................... 46
Manipulation Check ................................. 46
Dependent Variables ................................ 47
Hypothesis 1 ....................................... 49
Hypotheses 2, 3, and 4 ......................... 54
Hypotheses 5 and 6 ................................. 61
V. DISCUSSION ......................................... 64
Genetic-Relatedness Status as a
Negative Attribute ................................. 64
Adopted Status ............................... 66
Partially Genetically Related (PGR) Status ..... 67
Adopted Boys Versus Adopted Girls .................. 70
Summary ............................................ 71
Implications and Limitations ....................... 72
Suggestions for Future Research .................... 74
VI. REFERENCES ......................................... 76
I would like to thank Dr. Herman Aguinis for his
continued encouragement and support throughout the process of
writing this thesis. I also wish to thank Dr. Jo-Anne
Bachorowski and Dr. Michael Zinser for their assistance with
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In recent years, modem medical technology has caused
dramatic changes in family structure in our society. With the
help of assisted reproduction techniques, some previously
infertile couples now have the opportunity to give birth to
genetically-linked children where, in the past, their only
avenue for creating a family was through adoption. Now,
however, some couples find themselves having to make
increasingly difficult choices regarding their options and
plans for having a family. They may decide to try assisted
reproduction without considering adoption, to apply for
adoption without considering assisted reproduction, or to
attempt assisted reproduction and apply for adoption only if
pregnancy is not achieved.
Thus, because of these medical advances, a child may be
genetically linked to social parents to varying degrees. A
child may be adopted (genetically unrelated to either social
parent) or nonadopted (genetically related to both parents). A
third category could be deemed "partially genetically related"
or "PGR" to describe children who are bom, for example, of
artificial insemination by donor and thus genetically related
to the mother but not to the social father. (For the purposes
of this thesis, the terms "adopted," "nonadopted," and "PGR"
are used to describe the degree of genetic relatedness between
parents and children.) Prospective parents face extremely
complex choices in deciding which option or options to pursue
in order to achieve parenthood.
Despite the medical advances that make these choices
possible and the ideas surrounding the use of these
technologies, a paucity of research exists on the
ramifications of these reproductive technologies and choices,
especially on the children born of them. In some ways, this
void parallels that which existed when adopted children first
began to be studied to assess their development. Now, much is
known about the particular challenges and stresses faced by
adopted children, as well as the psychological and behavioral
outcomes experienced by them. Yet it is surprising that one
area still has not been studied with respect to adopted
children: The question of how, in general, adopted children
are viewed. It is unknown whether they are viewed as second-
best or as having "bad blood" as some have postulated (Miall,
1987). It is unknown whether judgements are made about
children based on, or influenced by, their genetic-relatedness
An even more extensive void of knowledge is found with
children bom of modern reproductive technology, even though
one of these techniques, artificial insemination by donor
(AID), has been a widely practiced treatment for male
infertility for over a century. AID is estimated to account
for between 6,000 and 250,000 births per year in the United
States (Rubin, 1965; Sanschagrin, Humber, Speirs, & Duder,
1993; Waltzer, 1982; Zimmerman, 1982). This extremely large
variance in estimated births per year reflects the fact that
few accurate records exist with respect to AID, and those that
do are often kept secret. In large part because of this
secrecy, little is known about how these children are viewed.
Little is known about how these children fare.
The purpose of this study is to examine current knowledge
regarding infertility, adoption, artificial insemination by
donor (a common assisted reproduction technique), and
perceptions in order to explore the question of how children's
genetic-relatedness status affects perceptions and evaluations
This study compares nonadopted children to both adopted
children and PGR children (born of artificial insemination by
donor [AID] and deemed "partially genetically related" because
their mother is their biological parent, but their father is
not). Adopted children and children born of AID (hereafter
referred to as PGR children) have several factors in common.
First, both adopted children and PGR children lack a genetic
tie to their social parentsin the case of adoption, that gap
pertains to both the mother and the father, whereas in the
case of AID, it is only the paternal genetic heritage that is
unknown. Thus, adopted children face twice the "genealogical
bewilderment" (Wellisch, 1952) faced by PGR children.
Another similarity between adopted and PGR children is
that both were very much wanted by the families that reared
them and that the social parents expended a great effort to
acquire them. However, both adopted and PGR children may be
faced with the realization that they were probably not a
"first choice" in that their social parents would have
preferred to have them come about in a different wayi.e., as
a result of sexual intercourse between the social parents.
Adopted children differ from PGR children in several
respects. First, PGR children were never relinquished by
their birth parents, so they do not have that original
rejection to face and overcome. PGR children do not have to
face the realization that their conception may have been a
crisis for their birth parents. Second, because PGR children
do not have the "suspect" genetic background that adopted
children may have (e.g., illegitimacy), PGR children do not
have the "bad blood" stigma attached to them that may exist
with respect to adopted children.
Thus, if genetic-relatedness status were a continuum of
parent/child genetic relatedness, adopted children would be
placed at one end (because they are not genetically linked to
their social parents at all), nonadopted children at the
other (because they are genetically linked to both parents),
and PGR children would fall in the middle (because they are
genetically linked to their mother but not their father).
PGR children have half the "genealogical bewilderment" (and,
perhaps, the problems that go along with it) of adopted
children. They lack the original rejection faced by adopted
children, but share the realization that they were probably
not a first choice.
It is unknown whether adopted or PGR children are viewed
negatively or stigmatized as a result of their genetic-
relatedness status. It is plausible that, because of the
factors discussed above, they may be viewed differently than
are nonadopted children. The goal of this study, then, is to
investigate the unexamined issue of whether children's
genetic-relatedness status has any bearing on how they are
perceived, and thus evaluated, by others.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
This literature review examines, from a sociocultural
perspective, what is known about (1) male and female
infertility, (2) adoption and artificial insemination by
donor (AID) as remedies to failure to conceive, and (3)
person perception in order to illustrate how these topics
interrelate and to better understand the manner in which they
may contribute to a stigmatizing effect of genetic-
relatedness status. It will be shown that infertility has a
devastating impact on a couple, especially when the source of
the infertility is the male, that both involuntary
childlessness resulting from infertility (hereafter referred
to as childlessness) and adoptive parent status may be
considered stigmatizing attributes, and that it is plausible
that a child's genetic-relatedness status (e.g., adopted,
nonadopted, or PGR) may also be a stigmatizing attribute
which may have an inpact on how a child is evaluated by
others. The impact of this stigmatization may be colored by
social attitudes toward patrilineality, male virility and
potency, infertility, sex roles, adoption, and the propriety
of modern reproductive techniques, as well as by the gender
of the evaluator. The overall hypothesis derived from these
various threads is that, even in situations where behavior is
identical, children will be evaluated differently as a
function of their genetic-relatedness status and the gender
of the evaluator.
Infertility can be described as the inability to
conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse or the
inability to carry a pregnancy to term (Shapiro, 1988).
Infertility is a widespread problem which is estimated to
affect between 10% and 17% of couples of childbearing age
(Corson, 1983; Curie-Cohen, Luttrell, & Shapiro, 1979; Herz,
1989; Mosher, 1982; Savage, 1992; Shiloh, Larom, & Ben-
Rafael, 1991; Waltzer, 1982).
Social and Psychological Ramifications of Infertility
In modern western society, reproduction represents a
social norm as well as a biological drive. Veevers (1980)
found that two major fertility norms predominate in this
culture: all married couples should have children, and all
married couples should desire children. Childlessness,
whether voluntary or involuntary, is seen in our culture as a
form of deviant conduct in that it is statistically uncommon
and violates the prevailing norms of acceptable masculine and
feminine behavior (Miall, 1986). As a result, childlessness
becomes an attribute of the individual which can be
discrediting or stigmatizing (Goffman, 1963; Miall, 1985,
1986, 1987; Veevers, 1972).
Not only do infertile couples have to cope with the
social ramifications of their inability to conceive, they
must cope with the personal stress, grief, and disappointment
that arise from the discovery of their condition. The
adverse impact of infertility on couples has been well
documented. Infertility is often experienced as an
unanticipated crisis (Shapiro, 1982) Couples may become so
preoccupied with conception that it affects their fantasies
and daily activities (Kraft, Palombo, Mitchell, Dean, Meyers,
& Schmidt, 1980) They may suffer psychological distress
from depression, anxiety, and guilt. They experience less
sexual satisfaction (as "babymaking" replaces lovemaking),
lower self-esteem, less personal fulfillment, and decreased
social acceptance (Batterman, 1985; Daniluk, 1988; Miall,
1987; Morse & Van Hall, 1987; Wiehe, 1976). Because of the
deeply entrenched cultural expectations surrounding
motherhood, a woman's sense of identity and self-esteem is
likely to be threatened by infertility, and thus these
negative effects have been reported to be greater in women
than in men (Greil, Leitko, & Porter, 1988).
However, infertility can be a result of either male or
female reproductive failure. Just as society holds strong
cultural expectations surrounding motherhood, so does it
place a strong emphasis on male virility perhaps even more
so than on motherhood. Consequently, male infertility may
represent a greater crisis for an infertile couple. Some
evidence suggests, in fact, that male infertility does have a
more negative impact on an infertile couple than does female
infertility (Connolly, Edelmann, & Cooke, 1987; Humphrey,
Humphrey, & Ainsworth-Smith, 1991) A recent study found
that some women choose to undergo cumbersome and
uncomfortable infertility treatments in order to protect
their husband's identity as men (Lorber & Bandlamudi, 1993).
Women often protect and shelter their husbands from others'
discovery of their infertility, taking the blame for it on
themselves, even though they feel angry for doing so
Socially and historically, too, male infertility has
been denied, hidden, or "remedied" to a greater extent than
female infertility. Physicians are slow to recognize male
reproductive problems and are reluctant to confront a man
with his infertility (Humphrey & Humphrey, 1986). Men may
distance themselves emotionally from their physiological
problems and be reluctant to start infertility treatment
(Lorber & Bandlamudi, 1993). One of the most common
treatments for male infertility, artificial insemination
using donor sperm, is shrouded in secrecy and deception to
the extent that, in most states, birth certificates for
children bom of this technique inaccurately list the husband
as the child's biological father. Couples using this
technique are often advised not to tell anyone about the
child's true origin, thus allowing the couple to keep the
husband's infertility a secret (Holbrook, 1990; Rowland,
A disparity may exist between the perceived value and
proper use of male and female genetic material. Recent
social controversies such as that surrounding the use of
surrogate mothers suggest that dispersion of female genetic
material may be considered socially unacceptable. However,
while many feel it is wrong for a woman to accept payment for
being a surrogate mother (deemed "baby selling" by some), few
have taken issue with the common practice of paying sperm
donors for their contributions j(Holbrook, 1990). Thus, it
appears to be more socially acceptable for men to disperse
their genetic material than it is for women to do so.
The Importance of Biological Kinship
Given the value and importance of male potency and
reproductive adequacy, then, one may wonder whether it
follows that biological kinship is more important to men than
to women. Certainly, biological relatedness to offspring is
desired by both men and women (Bartlett, 1991; Daniels, 1994,
Miall, 1987; Williams, 1992), though this desire may not even
be consciously recognized or acknowledged. Bartlett (1991)
found that although only 14% of the women in her study of in
vitro fertilization (IVF) participants spontaneously reported
that having a genetic link of their own to the child was a
primary motive for undergoing the procedure, all the
participants eventually acknowledged that the genetic factor
played a significant role in their choice to utilize IVF.
Further, the very explosion of modern reproductive techniques
(in combination with the decrease in children available for
adoption since the mid-1970s) is evidence of the desire for
couples to have their "own" children.
In North American society, the biological or blood
relationship has traditionally been conceptualized as
superior to any other kinship arrangement:
The relationship which is 'real' or 'true' or
'blood' or 'by birth' can never be severed,
whatever its legal position. Legal rights may-
be lost, but the blood relationship cannot be
lost ... Its nature cannot be terminated or
changed. (Schneider, 1968, p. 24)
Despite the fact that the above quote dates back almost
three decades, the societal value placed on biological kinship
remains and is still evident in the American legal system. In
several recent court cases, adoptions have been voided and
children reunited with their biological parents, even after
the children had lived in their adoptive homes for several
years (e.g., the much publicized 1993 custody case of "Baby
Jessica," Time Magazine. July 19, 1993, p. 44). In many of
these cases, the biological bond superseded other factors.
The strong emphasis on keeping troubled families intact also
speaks to the perceived importance of biological kinship.
Further, Kirk (1981) examined Canadian and American laws
dealing with incest prohibition and inheritance and concluded
that a biological relationship is considered superior to an
Even in cases where biological kinship does not exist, as
in the case of adoption, parents may attempt to reinforce the
adoptive kinship through naming practices. Johnson, McAndrew,
and Harris (1991) found that adopted children (both male and
female) were significantly more likely to be named after a
parent or relative than were natural children, even in
cultures where namesaking is'traditional and customary.
These authors postulated that naming is a form of parental
input inversely related to the certainty of kinship between
parent and child, and that it is used as a strategy to
enhance perceptions of kinship with unrelated offspring.
While it is clear that biological relatedness to
offspring is valued by both men and women, as well as by
society at large, some evidence suggests that, indeed, it may
hold the greatest import for men (Crowe, 1985; Williams,
1992) Crowe (1985) found that social motherhood was more
important to the IVF patients in her study than was
biological motherhood, as evidenced by many of the women's
openness to adoption as an alternate means to achieve
motherhood. Some of the women reported that their husbands
preferred to remain childless than to adopt. Crowe theorizes
that while "women may be able to relinquish definitions [of
parenthood] based on biological relationships, men may not be
willing to do so" (Crowe, 1985, p. 549).
Further, Williams (1992) reports that, while it is
fairly common for unsuccessful participants in IVF to
eventually turn to adoption as a last resort for forming a
family, the wives in her study were much more positive toward
adoption than were the husbands, and raised the issue of
adoption in the first place. While one explanation of this
finding is that IVF is much more intrusive upon and
uncomfortable for women than for men, and that therefore
women looked more readily to adoption, another explanation is
that for the women, the important goal was simply to achieve
motherhood, rather than specifically to achieve biological
motherhood. This position is bolstered by another study
which found that women were more accepting of adoption than
were men (Dunn, Ryan, & O'Brien, 1988). This greater
willingness of women than men to adopt may indicate that,
although biological relatedness is desired by both men and
women, it may be less crucial to women than to men. This
theory is consistent with the previously discussed social
value placed upon and mystique surrounding male potency and
Finally, of children who are adopted, a bias exists in
favor of adopting females (Kirk, 1964; Silk, 1990). Although
the reasons for this bias are not well understood, it may
reflect the cultural remnants of a patrilineal descent system
in which male descent lines must be kept genetically pure
(Kirk, 1964) .
Thus, it is clear from the literature that infertility
carries with it social and psychological ramifications.
Further, male infertility represents a "worse" type of
infertility largely because of the historical emphasis on
patrilineality, male potency, and virility. Artificial
insemination provides a means for a man to escape public
discreditation for infertility and still, on the surface,
maintain the patrilineal descent line. Finally, biological
kinship appears to be more important to men than to women,
again perhaps because of the social emphasis on
patrilineality and male potency. These influences and gender
differences may impact the way children of various genetic-
relatedness statuses (e.g., adopted, PGR, and nonadopted) are
Adoption has long been the traditional route for
infertile couples to create a family, although it is most
often the last resort. It is estimated that approximately 1%
of the general population is adopted and that 3% to 4% of the
children under the age of 18 years are adopted (MacIntyre,
1990; Miall, 1987). The increased availability of safe
abortions in the mid-1970s, as well as changing social mores
which were more accepting of single motherhood, led to a
steep decline in the number of babies placed for adoption
(Holbrook, 1990). The waiting period for a healthy, white
newborn is lengthy (Daniels, 1994; Holbrook, 1990; Williams,
1992), although non-white, special needs, and older children
are more readily available (Williams, 1992).
Attitudes Toward Adoption
Despite the large amount of research that has focused on
adoption and adoptees, little has examined general attitudes
toward adoption or adoptees. Most research on adoption has
focused either on the psychological adjustment of adoptees
(Brodzinsky, Schechter, Braff, & Singer, 1984; Goldberg &
Wolkind, 1992; Kotsopoulos, Cote, & Joseph, 1988; Lindholm &
Touliatos, 1980; Marquis & Detweiler, 1985; Ternay & Wilborn,
1985; Warren, 1992), or on the relationship between the
adoptee, adoptive parents, and birth parents (Brodzinsky,
1984; Helwig & Ruthven, 1990; Pannor & Nerlove, 1977; Shapiro
& Seeber, 1985; Ternay & Wilborn, 1985). In a society such
as ours where blood ties are so highly valued, and where
childlessness is considered by some to be a stigmatizing
attribute (Miall, 1985, 1986, 1987; Veevers, 1972), it is
plausible that adopted children themselves may be stigmatized
as a consequence of their genetic-relatedness status. Thus,
it is surprising that virtually no empirical research exists
on attitudes toward and perceptions of adopted children.
Kirk (1964, 1981) reported one perceived difference between
adopted and nonadopted childrenthat the adopted child will
behave differently (generally more problematically) from
Although not directly addressing the issues of attitudes
toward adopted children, Miall (1987) has explored the
perceptions of community attitudes toward adoptive parent
status. She hypothesized that adoptive parent status may be
discrediting for infertile women because, by virtue of having
adopted a child, they have made their reproductive inadequacy
public. She reported that over half the respondents in her
study felt that adoptive parenthood was viewed as different
from biological parenthood. One respondent said:
I think that most people in society think it1s
different...I think there is a real feeling that
if they're not born to you, they're not really
yours. I know older people are afraid to discuss
adoption. They think you should act as if the
child is your natural child, (p. 36)
Another respondent spoke of familial reactions to adoption:
With my family and my husband's family, my in-laws,
they do view it as different from biological
parenting. In fact they were quite negative
about it before we adopted...They actually said
that the children, the experience of adopting
children would not be the same, that the children
would not really be their grandchildren, (p. 36)
Miall also explored perceptions of general societal
attitudes toward adoption and discovered three general
themes: (a) the biological tie is important for bonding and
love and that, therefore, the bonding and love in adoption
are second best, (b) adoptive parents are not real parents,
and (3) adopted children are second rate because of their
unknown genetic past. Whether or not these general societal
attitudes truly exist is unknown, but it is likely that if
they are perceived to exist, they may very well exist in some
The perceived societal belief that adopted children are
second rate is most central to this study. Miall (1987)
found that the majority of adoptive parents and involuntarily
childless women interviewed in her study referred to the
perceived societal belief that adopted children are somehow
inferior to biological children, primarily because of their
"suspect" genetic background. The respondents asserted that
there is a perceived attitude that adoption is a second
choice, and that if a couple is capable of bearing biological
children, they would surely do so; thus, adopted children are
seen as second best or a last resort. Further, because the
biological heritage of an adopted child is frequently
unknown, respondents perceived that society viewed the
children as "not quite measuring up" or having "bad blood"
Though the findings of Miall1s study are limited by a
small and non-random sample, other researchers have also
alluded to perceived negative societal attitudes toward or
stigma of adoption. However, there has been no direct
research to see if such attitudes or stigmas actually exist.
Presently, there is only anecdotal information suggesting a
stigma of adoption. Brodzinsky (1984) discusses adoption
revelation in terms of "protecting the child from the stigma
which society attaches to adoption" (p. 105). Adoption is
claimed to be portrayed in the media in ways that are
sensational, inaccurate, and damaging (Pierce, 1990).
The results are mixed, however. A recent study found
positive attitudes toward adoption in a study of adolescent
mothers (Kallen, Griffore, Popovich, & Powell, 1990) This
study included a large proportion of young women who had
recently relinquished their babies. Presumably, these women
would report positive attitudes toward adoption in order to
explain and justify their decisions (i.e.# to reduce
cognitive dissonance). Another study which examined college
students1 acceptance of adoption and several modern
reproductive techniques reported that adoption was considered
the most acceptable method for solving problems of
infertility (Dunn, Ryan, & O'Brien, 1988).
In general, the evidence, though not unanimous, tends to
suggest, albeit anecdotally, a perceived negative societal
attitude toward adoption. The question remains as to whether
this stigma, if it exists, pertains only to the phenomenon of
adoption or whether it applies to the adopted children
The Challenges of Being Adopted
Though little is known about how adopted children are
perceived, a great deal is known about adopted children
themselves and the unique challenges they face. In order to
better understand how adopted children may be viewed by
society, it is helpful to examine these challenges and the
possible impact they may have upon adopted children. First,
adopted children must cope with what one researcher has
called "genealogical bewilderment" (Wellisch, 1952). Second,
they must deal with the emotions surrounding the fact that
they were relinquished by their birth parents.
Genealogical bewilderment. The concept of "genealogical
bewilderment" was introduced by Wellisch (1952) to explain a
finding in his adoption studies. He hypothesized that this
bewilderment, caused by the lack of knowledge of at least one
of the child's biological parents, led to a sense of
incompleteness and lack of well-being in some of his
subjects. He suggested that this phenomenon may lead to a
state of confusion that undermined the child's sense of self,
well-being, and security. Thus, it may be that adopted
children may experience a feeling of not belonging to the
adoptive family, especially if their race or appearance is
obviously different from the family unit (Helwig & Ruthven,
1990; Rosenberg, 1992).
Genealogical bewilderment may induce adoptees,
especially those in late adolescence, to begin expressing
interest in their biological families in order to learn more
about themselves and their genealogical heritage (Rosenberg,
1992) The need to search is a natural culmination of the
fantasizing and romanticizing in which the adopted child has
engaged for years (Helwig & Ruthven, 1990). Shapiro and
Seeber (1985) contend that adoptees have a compelling need to
gather information about their biological parents. When
adoptees search for their biological parents, they may hold
unrealistic fantasies or expectations regarding various
aspects of their birth parents, and even when a reunion
occurs, the result may be feelings of disappointment, anger,
shame, guilt, and confusion (Helwig & Ruthven, 1990). Thus,
the genetic incontinuity faced by an adoptee presents a
Relinquishment. The concept of adoption is a difficult
one for young children to comprehend. While it is generally
recommended that the topic of adoption be introduced to the
child early in life, children do not begin to appreciate the
uniqueness of their adoptive family until approximately 8 to
11 years of age (Brodzinsky, 1984). It is not until early to
middle adolescence that children fully understand that
adoption involves the termination of parental rights and
responsibilities of the birth parents and the granting of
those rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parents
(Brodzinsky, 1984). The outgrowth of their broadening
understanding of adoption is that, for some children, their
relationship with their adoptive families becomes tenuous.
Children concoct fantasies about their biological parents and
their potential for reclaiming them or disrupting their
adoptive family (Brodzinsky, 1984; Hajal & Rosenberg, 1991).
Children begin to understand that they were "given away" once
and may doubt the permanency of their adoptive relationship,
leading to fears of abandonment (Hajal & Rosenberg, 1991).
Eventually, adopted children may come to the realization
that their conception was a crisis for their birth parents
and that they were not wanted by them. Adopted children are
often told that their birth mothers loved them so much that
they gave them up in order to assure the babies a good
family. Many adoptees, at least during adolescence, do not
believe this story and experience distrust and confusion as a
result (Pannor & Nerlove, 1977). Despite reassurances from
their adoptive parents that they were "chosen" and very much
wanted, the original rejection and abandonment experienced by
the children cannot be erased. Many adoptees continue to
wonder why they were given up for adoption by their
biological parents (Pannor & Nerlove, 1977) Further, as they
mature, they may come to the realization that they were not
even the first choice for their adoptive parentsthat, in
fact, they were a "last resort." Dealing with these
realizations and the emotions they evoke is a particular
challenge faced by adopted children.
Outcomes For Adopted Children
Much research has addressed the question of how adopted
children fare, though the findings of these studies have been
mixed. While some studies have found that adopted children
are more confident, more extroverted, and more emotionally
stable than nonadopted children (Loehlin, Willerman, & Horn,
1982; Marquis & Detweiler, 1985), the majority of studies
have found that adopted children experience greater
adjustment problems, more psychiatric problems, and poorer
school performance than their nonadopted peers (Brodzinsky,
Schechter, Braff, & Singer, 1984; Kotsopoulos, Cote, &
Joseph, 1988; Lindholm & Touliatos, 1980; Temay & Wilborn,
1985; Warren, 1992).
For example, adopted children are overrepresented in
inpatient psychiatric settings (Goldberg & Wolkind, 1992;
Goodman, Silberstein, & Mandell, 1963; Kotsopoulos, Cote, &
Joseph, 1988). However, some researchers have theorized that
the overrepresentation of adopted children in psychiatric
treatment settings is not as much a result of adoptees having
more psychiatric problems than nonadopted children, but
rather that adoptees are more likely to be diagnosed and
referred for treatment because their adoptive status serves
as a "red flag" and helps to determine whether they enter the
mental health arena. Evidence is mixed on this possibility.
Warren (1992) found that adoptees do display more problems
than nonadoptees, but also that they are referred more
readily even after controlling for extent of problems.
Warren suggested several possible reasons for this finding.
One may be that the higher average socioeconomic status of
adoptive families leads to interactions with mental health
professionals even for relatively minor problems, or that
adoptive parents are more alert to problems and likely to
seek professional help for their children.
Another study, however, found that adoptive status did
not affect clinical judgments, including prognosis,
anticipated length of treatment, and type of treatment
recommended, made by mental health professionals about
hypothetical adopted and nonadopted adolescent clients
(Weiss, 1987). The results of this study indicated that the
adoptive status of the adolescent client did not seem to be a
significant factor in the majority of clinical judgments made
about them (although clinicians did demonstrate a tendency to
desire additional information in the case of adoptees). This
finding suggests one of three possibilities: (1) global
stereotypes about adopted individuals do not exist, (2)
stereotypes are not strongly held by most clinicians, or (3)
stereotypes do not affect the conceptualizing that is done
about adopted clients.
A shortcoming of the above study, however, is that most
clinicians are trained, encouraged, and ethically bound to
avoid stereotyping. Because of this training, clinicians may
be more tolerant of "differentness" and less likely to engage
in stereotyping. Thus, the contention that this study
disproves the existence of global stereotypes about adopted
individuals is weak. However, given the conflicting evidence
regarding the propensity of adoptees to be singled out for
treatment, more research is. needed to resolve this question.
From the literature on adoption, it is clear that
adopted children face challenges that nonadopted children do
not. While the impact of these challenges on the children
themselves is fairly well understood, little is known about
the broader social impact of being adopted. Insofar as
adoptive parent status may be considered a stigmatizing
attribute, it is plausible that a child's status as adopted
may too be a stigmatizing attribute which leads to
stereotyping of the child.
Artificial Insemination bv Donor
Artificial insemination by donor (AID) is perhaps the
most widely practiced treatment for male infertility. It has
been used for over a century and is estimated to account for
between 6,000 and 250,000 births per year in the United
States (Rubin, 1965; Sanschagrin, Humber, Speirs, & Duder,
1993; Waltzer, 1982; Zimmerman, 1982). This extremely large
range in estimated births per year reflects the fact that few
accurate records exist with respect to AID, and those that do
are often kept secret.
AID is a relatively simple procedure, consisting of
injecting semen from an anonymous donor into the genital
tract of a woman. AID has a high success rate; it is
estimated that up to 80% of women who attempt artificial
insemination conceive, although numerous attempts may be
required before conception occurs (Noble, 1987).
AID Secrecy and Its Ramifications
In order to understand the impact that having a PGR
status (i.e., conceived through AID) might have, it is
helpful to examine the psychological, social, and cultural
influences and ramifications of AID. As discussed above in
the context of infertility, AID carries with it a high degree
of secrecy (Holbrook, 1990; Rowland, 1985; Sanschagrin,
Humber, Speirs, & Duder, 1993; Sparks & Hamilton, 1991).
This secrecy has been assumed by the medical profession to be
of paramount importance in order to protect the three parties
involved in the AID procedure: (1) the couple utilizing the
procedure, (2) the offspring, and (3) the anonymous donor.
In two studies, the majority of couples (56% to 68%)
undergoing AID never planned to tell their children of their
genetic heritage (Clayton & Kovacs, 1982 [cited in Rowland,
1985]; Rowland, 1985). Couples utilizing AID favor secrecy
for four primary reasons: (1) to protect the husband (the
"social father") from the stigma of infertility, (2) to
prevent the child from rejecting the social father, (3) to
ensure 'ownership* of the children, and (4) to protect the
child from social disapproval (Holbrook, 1990; Rowland,
As discussed above, AID allows the couple to keep the
husband's infertility hidden, thus avoiding public discredit
or shame that might result from what society might perceive
as a lack of virility. Another reason for keeping the male's
infertility hidden is related to the idea of 'ownership' of
the children. Some couples fear that their own parents will
reject a child born of AID, and thus secrecy allows the lines
of inheritance to remain unobscured (Rowland, 1985). Couples
also express concern that if the child were to become aware
of their genetic background, he or she might reject the
social father (Rowland, 1985). Finally, couples also want to
protect their child from anticipated social disapproval.
Rowland (1985) found that couples who use AID believe
themselves that there is something "not quite right" about
using AID (p. 393).
Protecting the anonymity of donors is another key reason
given for maintaining secrecy. Some studies have found that
a significant portion of donors (33% to 58%) claim they would
refuse to participate unless guaranteed anonymity
(Handelsman, Dunn, Conway, & Boylan, 1985; Rowland, 1985;
Singer & Wells, 1984). Another study found that 71% of sperm
donors favor strict anonymity, although they were not asked
if they would refuse to donate if anonymity were not
guaranteed (Sauer, Gorrill, Zeffer, & Bustillo, 1989). The
donors' desire for anonymity revolves around two primary
issues. First, donors do not want to assume any legal
liability for their AID offspring (e.g., child support).
Second, donors do not want their AID offspring to have any
inheritance rights (Rowland, 1985) .
The secrecy surrounding AID has at least potential
psychological ramifications for all parties involved. For
the recipient couples, the sense of secrecy may foster a
sense of guilt, indecency, and taboo (Rowland, 1985).
Further, the burden of maintaining the secret may not only
generate stress in the couple's relationship, but also give
rise to a difficult power differential in the relationship as
a result of the fact that the wife is biologically linked to
the child and the husband is not. Clayton and Kovacs (1982)
conducted one of the few follow-up studies of couples
undergoing AID and noted that "all wives were anxious about
their husband's reaction to the child ... one husband felt
the child was a constant reminder of his infertility" (cited
in Rowland, 1985). Herz (1989) has suggested that some men
find it easier to accept the child as their own when the
origin is kept secret, although the energy invested in
keeping the secret may cause harm. In another study, a man
who was the social father of several AID children said "I am
hardly ever conscious of the fact that the children are not
my own, and I do not want to be reminded" (Levie, 1967).
For the children born of AID, the secrecy surrounding
the procedure has a lasting inpact. Because birth records
inaccurately list social fathers as birth fathers, children
born of AID who are unaware of the circumstances of their
conception are led to believe that they know their paternal
genetic heritage when they, in fact, do not. For the AID
offspring that are aware of the means of their conception,
the lack of open records denies them any knowledge of their
paternal genetic background as well. At least some adults
conceived through AID feel adamantly that they should have
been told of their origins (McWhinnie, 1992).
Attitudes Toward Artificial Insemination bv Donor
As with adoption, researchers have alluded to the
perceived negative social attitudes and stigmas toward
artificial insemination and the children born of AID (Herz,
1989; Rowland, 1985; Sparks & Hamilton, 1991). And as with
adoption, this evidence is anecdotal and refers only to the
perception that such a stigma exists.
Little research has been done, however, to discern
whether any such stigma actually exists beyond that relating
to the issue of male infertility. The few studies that have
measured general social attitudes toward the procedure of
artificial insemination have yielded mixed results. An older
survey of female college students' attitudes toward
infertility treatments, including AID, revealed a neutral
attitude toward AID. (Matterson & Terranova, 1967). Another
study found that only between 14.4% and 23% of college age
students assessed considered AID to be an acceptable method
of dealing with infertility (Dunn, Ryan, & O'Brien, 1988).
As with adoption, the scarce evidence that does exist
tends to indicate that there may be a stigma with respect to
artificial insemination by donor. The question arises, then,
whether any such stigma pertains simply to the procedure
alone or whether it also applies to children born of AID.
Certainly, some parents fear that their children born as a
result of assisted reproduction would be stigmatized if their
origins were known (Herz, 1989; McWhinnie, 1992; Rowland,
1985). A paucity of research exists, however, on the
question of social attitudes toward AID children. Similarly,
little research has been done to follow-up the children born
of AID to determine whether they have particular strengths or
challenges. One reason for this may be the secrecy
surrounding the procedure and the fact that AID children are
difficult, if not impossible, to identify from medical or
Clearly, as is the case with adopted children, more
research needs to be done to assess attitudes toward children
bom of AID to assess whether their genetic-relatedness
status is a stigmatizing attribute which may lead to
stereotyping of the children.
Thus far, a sociocultural perspective has been employed
in examining and discussing the topics of infertility,
adoption, and AID. It is important to recognize that an
alternative viewpoint exists, that of the sociobiological
perspective. From a sociobiological viewpoint, the impact of
infertility might be viewed and explained quite differently
than presented above. So, too, might attitudes toward and
acceptance of adoption and artificial insemination.
According to Dawkins (1976) the sociobiological school
holds that species, including humans, are driven to reproduce
in order to promote their own gene line, and that they are
driven to do so in such a way as to minimize their investment
Thus, for either a man or a woman, their own infertility
would represent an inability to fulfill the drive to promote
their own genes. If the woman were the infertile one, the
man would still be able to spread his genes through mating
with other women. Similarly, if the man were the infertile
one, the woman may cuckold the male or reject him for another
and thus promote her genes by mating with another.
From a sociobiological perspective, men and women would
invest in adopted children differently than they would PGR or
nonadopted children. Both men and women, according to this
perspective, would view their partially genetically related
children the same as they would their nonadopted (i.e., fully
genetically related) children. In the case of both PGR
children and nonadopted children, the child would carry the
same proportion of genes of the biological parent, regardless
of whether the other parent is genetically linked to the child.
In other words, a woman who has a child via AID (a PGR child)
would have the same genetic connection to (and thus investment
in) that child as she would have had she given birth to the
biological child of her husband. Conversely, a man whose wife
bore a child via AID would have no investment in the child
because it carries none of his genes. Similarly, because an
adopted child carries none of the genes of the social parents,
the sociobiological perspective would predict that neither
social parent would be willing to invest resources in it.
In summary, then, a sociobiological theoretical
perspective would predict that infertility would have a
negative impact on both men and women. Partially genetically
related children should be viewed equivalent to nonadopted
children by the biological parent because the biological
parent's genes are carried forth in the child. The non-
genetically linked (i.e., social, not biological) parent would
have no reason to be invested in a PGR child. Finally,
adoptive parents would have no reason to be invested in adopted
children because the adoptive parents' genes are not carried
forth in the gene pool. These predictions are quite different
from those predicted by the sociocultural perspective.
Perception and Evaluation
It is well documented that people evaluate others on the
basis of many factors (Aguinis, Nesler, Quigley, & Tedeschi
1994; Brigham, 1980; Hassebrauck, 1988; Moore, Graziano, &
Millar, 1987; Nesler, Aguinis, Quigley, & Tedeschi, 1993) .
Attractive people, for example, are considered to be more
poised, interesting, sociable, independent, dominant,
exciting, sexual, intelligent, well-adjusted, socially
skilled, and successful than those who are unattractive
(Brigham, 1980; Hassebrauck, 1988; Moore, Graziano, & Millar,
Dion (1972) found that adults displayed differential
treatment toward attractive and unattractive children in
situations where behavior was identical, indicating that
adults make attributional inferences or judgments about
children solely as a function of their attractiveness. In
this case, the evaluators inferred that the attractive
children possessed admirable qualities such as honesty and
pleasantness, even though there was no actual evidence of
those traits. Conversely, evaluators inferred that the
unattractive children possessed negative traits such as
dishonesty and unpleasantness, again in the absence of
evidence of those traits. These negative attributions and
perceptions in Dion's study were tied to the child's
attractiveness; no research has been conducted to determine
whether a similar effect may exist with respect to a child's
genetic-relatedness status. If genetic-relatedness status
is, in fact, a stigmatizing attribute, then it is plausible
that it could lead to stereotyping and negative perceptions
This is an important area of research because
evaluations and attributional inferences made about people
relate to the expectations held of them (Chapman & McCauley,
1993; Jamieson, Lydon, Stewart, & Zanna, 1987). Further,
expectations lead to behavior, as in the case of self-
fulfilling prophesies (Eden, 1992). Because expectations can
play a crucial role in the development of a child, it is
imperative that factors which may color evaluations of and
expectations toward a child be identified and better
The Present Study and Hypotheses
This study investigates the question of whether a
child's genetic-relatedness status gives rise to a negative
perceptions and attributions. The study will present a
situation where college students are asked to evaluate a
child based on a behavior segment describing a fairly serious
transgression by the child. This format was chosen for
several reasons: (1) by placing the child in the midst of a
transgression, the child's behavior has a context to it, (2)
in the absence of a context, social desirability factors may
preclude honest evaluations of the child, and (3) a negative
context was chosen because the literature suggests that it is
a negative, rather than positive, stereotype which may apply
to adopted and PGR children (Brodzinsky, 1984; Herz, 1989;
Miall, 1987; Pierce, 1990; Rowland, 1985; Sparks & Hamilton,
1991). If this is the case, then placing children in a
negative context may increase the likelihood that negative
attributions and evaluations will be evoked.
The following hypotheses are derived from an analysis of
the above literature:
Hi: Because a child's genetic-relatedness status (e.g.,
adopted or PGR) is a stigmatizing attribute,
children who are adopted or PGR will be evaluated
more negatively than children who are nonadopted,
even in situations where behavior is identical.
Given the possible differences between how men and
women react to infertility, the gender of the rater
may have an impact on the extent to which an
genetic-relatedness status may be considered
H2: Because AID provides a means to hide male
infertility, which, in turn, reinforces notions of
patrilineality and the perceived importance of male
potency in our society, male raters will be more
approving of AID in general and will thus rate AID
(or PGR) children more favorably than
they will adopted children.
H3: Because biological connectedness, or at least
apparent biological connectedness, appears to be
more valued among men than women, men will rate AID
(or PGR) children more favorably as compared to
H4: Because biological connectedness, or at least
apparent biological connectedness, appears to be
less crucial to women than to men, women will rate
adopted children more favorably as compared to men.
H5: Because biological connectedness (genuine or
apparent) and patrilineality appears to be more
valued among men than women, and since girls are
favored for adoption (possibly because they keep
patrilineal descent lines pure), men will rate
adopted girls more favorably than adopted boys.
H6: Because patrilineality appears to be less of a
factor for women, women will rate adopted boys and
adopted girls similarly.
To test these hypotheses, college students received
written information describing a transgression supposedly
committed by a 7-year-old child. The task of the subject was
to make attributional inferences about (a) why the child
committed the harmful act, (b) how the child behaved on a
typical day, and (c) to estimate the likelihood that the
child had committed a similar act in the past or would do so
in the future. Further, subjects were asked to rate the
child on a number of scales regarding attributes which might
be considered relevant in an adult's evaluation of a child's
behavior. Both a male child and a female child were
portrayed to assess the effects due to sex of the child.
Further, the sex of the rater was recorded to determine if
there were any differences due to this variable.
The hypotheses were tested within a 2 x 3 x 2 full-
factorial design in which the independent variables were [a]
sex of the child (male vs. female), [b] genetic-relatedness
status of the child (adopted vs. nonadopted vs. PGR), and
[c] sex of the rater (male vs. female). The dependent
variables were (a) the aforementioned attributional
inferences, (b) ratings on 14 attribute dimensions, and (c)
an estimate of the likelihood that the child had committed a
similar act in the past or would do so in the future.
Subjects were males (n = 70) and females (n = 59) from
an introductory psychology class. All subjects participated
in the experiment in partial fulfillment of class
requirements. Most of the subjects were single and
After greeting and seating a group of subjects, the
experimenter gave them a large envelope containing stimulus
materials appropriate to 1 of the 12 cells of the design.
The subjects were randomly assigned to conditions.
The first material presented to each subject was a
verbal introduction to the study. In order to avoid socially
desirable responses, the subjects were distracted from the
true purpose of the study by being told that the present
investigation dealt with perceptions and evaluations,
particularly "adults' evaluations of children's behavior,
specifically the behavior of 7-year-old children." The
behavioral descriptions that were provided for their
evaluation were alleged to have been randomly selected from
teachers' daily journal reports in which various types of
classroom and playground disturbances were routinely
described. Thus, these descriptions were said to have been
formulated by those who were present when the behavior
Further, as a rationale for the evaluation procedure,
subjects were told that some theorists hypothesize that
observers who are actually immersed in real-life situations
tend to give "richer judgments of the behavior segments
observed." On the other hand, it was explained, other
theorists hypothesize that those not present when the
behavior segment actually take place "tend to gain a
perspective that adds an extra dimension to their judgments."
Accordingly, subjects were informed that the purpose of the
present study was to "determine the dimensions along which
judgements in these two situations (i.e., direct observation
of a behavior segment versus written information about a
behavior segment) are likely to differ." Subjects were told
that they were taking part in the "written information"
Following this introduction, subjects were instructed
to remove the Behavioral Description page from the envelope,
to read it carefully once, and to then place it back in the
envelope. They were told that this procedure simulates real-
life observation of events, where the "instant replay" of
behavior segments is not possible. The Behavioral
Description page included, in addition to the written
description of the child's behavior, his/her name, age, a
small photo, and a brief paragraph describing his/her
background. Subjects were told that it thus presumably
included all of the "information the subjects would likely
have were they actually been present when the act occurred."
The photographs used were of a 7-year-old male and a 7-
year-old female. Both were Caucasian and did not have any
overt physical defects or deformities. Neither wore glasses.
Both were of approximately equal attractiveness.
The paragraph describing the child's background stated
that the child was an only child who lived in a fairly
"typical" two-parent, middle-class household where both
parents work outside the home. It was also stated that the
child was one of the following: (1) a child adopted at
birth, (2) a child conceived through artificial insemination
with anonymous donor sperm, or (3) the natural biological
child of the parents. In all three cases it was stated that
the family struggled with infertility before the child joined
the family. The only item that varied among conditions
(other than the sex of the child) was the child's genetic-
The Behavioral Description itself consisted of a very
brief written account of a child's transgression and was
identical for all conditions. It depicted a situation in
which the child was said to have packed a sharp piece of ice
into a snowball and thrown it at another child's head,
resulting in a deep and bleeding cut. The behavior was
depicted as intentional and unjustified.
After returning the stimulus materials to the envelope,
the subjects were instructed to complete the Response
Questionnaire which contained a series of 18-point scales
with anchor words at each end. Two of these scales assessed
the following attributional inferences: (a) the likelihood
that the child had committed a similar harmful act in the
past (ranging from "very unlikely" to "very likely") and (b)
the probability that he/she would commit a similar act in the
future (ranging from "very improbable" to "very probable").
One scale assessed the judgment of the undesirability of the
child's act itself (ranging from not undesirable at all" to
In addition, the subjects also were asked to rate the
child on 14 attribute dimensions. A number of these items
those likely to be relevant to an adult's evaluation of a
child's misbehavior (Dion, 1972; Sharma, 1987)were selected a
priori for analysis. These dimensions were pleasant-
unpleasant, honest-dishonest, selfish-unselfish, good-bad,
gentle-rough, even tempered-hot tempered, aggressive-not
aggressive, awful-nice, friendly-unfriendly, and kind-mean.
The others (intelligent-unintelligent, creative-uncreative,
trusting-not trusting, and gloomy-cheerful) served as filler
items. On open-ended questions, the subjects were asked to
estimate in their own words (a) why the child had committed the
harmful act and (b) how the child usually behaved on a typical
day. Finally, on an 18-point scale, subjects were asked to
estimate the likelihood that the child had committed a similar
act in the past or would do so in the future.
After completing the Response Questionnaire, the
experimenter asked all subjects to complete an Exit
Questionaire which contained several items designed to identify
those who may not have paid attention to the stimulus
materials. These items asked the subjects to recall the sex,
age, and genetic-relatedness status of the child, as well as
other details such as the number of siblings the child had and
whether the child had attended daycare. Finally, subjects were
To ensure that the physical appearance of the boy and
girl depicted in the scenarios was not a confounding variable,
subjects were asked to rate the child as attractive,
unattractive, or plain-looking. In order to test the null
hypothesis that the child's gender and attractiveness rating
were independent of each other, a chi-square analysis was
performed. The results indicated that there was no
significant relationship between the gender of the child and
the attractiveness rating assigned by the rater = .66, df
= 2, p = ns). The girl was rated as attractive by 47.7% of
the subjects, as plain by 50.8% of the subjects, and as
unattractive by 1.5% of the subjects. The boy was rated as
attractive by 42.2% of the subjects, as plain by 54.7% of the
subjects, and as unattractive by 3.1% of the subjects. Thus,
because both the boy and the girl were considered by the
raters as being similarly attractive, any differences in how
the boy and girl were rated on the dependent variables are not
attributable to the attractiveness of the child, but rather to
the manipulated variables.
The dependent variables for this study include ratings
on the following 18-point trait scales: pleasant-unpleasant,
honest-dishonest, selfish-unselfish, good-bad, gentle-rough,
even tempered-hot tempered, aggressive-not aggressive, awful-
nice, friendly-unfriendly, and kind-mean. Ratings on these
variables provide measures of various facets of
favorability" or "unfavorability." Because the dependent
variables are conceptually similar, as indicated by high
intercorrelations between the scales (see Table 4.1), a
composite variable was also computed to be the mean of the
Table 4.1: Scale Intercorrelations and Reliability
Similar Future Pleasant Honest Selfish Good Gentle Temper Aggress Nice Friendly Kind Global
Future .27* 1.00
Pleasant .38** .35 1.00
Honesty .37** .20 .76** 1.00
Selfishness .20 .21 .15 .18 1.00
Goodness .44 .36 .77** .60 .29** 1.00
Gentleness .30 .18 .59 .47 .11 .68 1.00
Temper .20 .25* .48** .40 .34** .50 .55** 1.00
Aggressive .21 ,28* .38 .26* .24* t CM U) .54 .60 1.00
Niceness .25* .19 .62 .48 .11 .69 .57 .42 .46** 1.00
Friendly .22 .16 .63 .52 .08 .68 .57** .39 .33** .66 1.00
Kindness .26* .20 .60** .49 .20 .71 .65** .45 .42 .66 .74 1.00
Global .39** .33 .83** .71 .37** .88 .79** .71 .65** .77 .76** .81 1.00
p < .01, two-tailed. p < .001, two-tailed.
Cronbach's alpha = .847 n = 129
scores on these ten scales. This composite variable (dubbed
GLOBAL), then, provides a measure of overall affective
reaction to the child in the scenario presented. The
individual trait scale ratings, as well as the global rating,
were analyzed. On each of these 18-point scales, a high
score indicates a "favorable" rating and a low score
indicated an "unfavorable" rating.
Two further dependent variables consisted of estimates,
on an 18-point scale, of the likelihood that the child had
committed a similar act in the past or would do so in the
future. On each of these scales, a high score indicated a
"favorable" rating and a low score indicated an "unfavorable"
The final two dependent variables were derived from
open-ended questions asking (a) why the child had committed
the harmful act and (b) how the child usually behaved on a
typical day. The subjects' responses to these questions were
coded by two independent coders. For the question asking for
an estimate of why the child had committed the harmful act,
the subjects' attributional responses were coded as
"primarily situational," "primarily dispositional," "mixed,"
or "no response." For the question asking how the child
usually behaved on a typical day, the responses were coded as
"primarily prosocially, "primarily antisocially," "mixed,"
or "no response." In the few instances where the coders
disagreed on the appropriate category for a given response, a
conference was held to resolve the discrepancy.
The first hypothesis was that genetic-relatedness status
is a stigmatizing attribute. That is, it was hypothesized
that adopted and PGR children will be rated less favorably
than nonadopted children. A 2 X 3 multivariate analysis of
variance (MANOVA) was performed to examine the effect of
genetic-relatedness status (adopted, PGR, or nonadopted) and
rater's gender (male versus female) on the evaluation of
children's transgressions, using the dependent variables
Looking at only the composite rating (global), no
significant main effect was found for the manipulation of
genetic-relatedness status, .F(2,123) = 1.21, p = ns.
Similarly, looking at the individual trait ratings as well as
the estimates of past and future behavior, there was no
significant main effect of genetic-relatedness status, though
there was a trend toward statistical significant for the
niceness scale, F(2,123) = 2.48, T}2 .04, p = .09. There
was also no significant main effect of the rater's gender on
the global rating, individual trait ratings, and estimates of
future and past behavior.
However, a significant interaction between genetic-
relatedness status and the rater1s gender was found for the
global rating, F(2,123) = 3.47, t\2 = .05, p < .05, as well as
for the pleasantness, F(2,123) = 3. 99 T]2 = 06, p < 05,
niceness, F(2,123) = 3.40, T]2 - .05, p < .05, friendliness,
F(2,123) = 4.97, Tf2 = .07, P < .01, and kindness scales,
F(2,123) = 3.20, T]2 = in o P < in o The effect sizes, as
estimated by T]2, indicate that genetic-relatedness status
accounts for between 5% to 7% of the variance in the global
rating and ratings of pleasantness, niceness, friendliness,
and kindness. These values constitute medium effect sizes
On all these scales, male raters rated PGR children the
most favorably while female raters rated PGR children the
least favorably. The means for the global rating by genetic-
relatedness status and gender are presented in Figure 4.1. A
trend was also noted toward significance on the honesty,
F(2,123) = 2.46, T}2 = .04, p =.09, gentleness, F(2,123) =
2.47, T]2 = .04, p = .09, and temper scales, F(2,123) = 2.66,
tj2 = .04, p = .07. There were no significant interaction
effects found with respect to the estimates of future or past
Figure 4.1. Means for the global rating by rater and
behavior or to the selfishness, goodness, or aggressiveness
scales. To interpret these significant interactions, the
simple main effects were examined.
The effect of genetic-relatedness status among female
raters was significant on the global rating, F(2,124) = 3.81,
T]^ = .06, p < .05, as well as on the pleasantness, F(2,124) =
4.96, = .07, p < .01, honesty, F(2,124) = 4.05, r- .06,
p < .05, temper, F(2,124) = 3.64, r= .06, p < .05,
niceness, F(2,124) = 5.07, T]^ = .08, p < .01, and
friendliness scales, F(2,124) = 3.78, Tp .06, p < .05. The
effect sizes estimates (77^) indicate that among female
raters, genetic-relatedness status accounts for between 6%
and 8% of the variance in ratings on the global scale as well
as on the pleasantness, temper, niceness, and friendliness
scales. These values are indicative of a medium effect size
(Cohen, 1988). A trend toward significance was also noted on
the goodness, F(2,124) = 2.73, r]2 = .04, p = .07, and
kindness scales, F(2,124) = 2.54, T)2 .04, p = .08. The
means for all these trait scales are presented in Figure 4.2.
There was no significant effect noted on the estimates of
past or future behavior or on the selfishness, gentleness, or
aggressiveness scales. Figure 4.2 illustrates that female
raters tended to evaluate nonadopted children most favorably
and PGR children least favorably. Further examination of
simple comparisons found that significant differences on the
global, pleasantness, honesty, goodness, temper, niceness,
Global Pleasantness Honesty Temper Niceness Friendliness Goodness Kindness
Figure 4.2. Means for the simple main effect of genetic-relatedness
status among female raters
friendliness and kindness scales exist between the PGR and
nonadopted children (all ps < .05) rather than between the
adopted and nonadopted children.
The effect of genetic-relatedness status among male
raters was not significant on the global rating, F(2,124) =
.51, p = ns, or on any of the individual trait ratings or
estimates of future and past behavior.
To examine the effect of genetic-relatedness status on
the attributions regarding why the child had committed the
harmful act and how they behave on a typical day, a 3 X 2
chi-square analysis was performed using the three categories
of genetic-relatedness status (adopted, PGR, and nonadopted)
and two categories of rater (male and female). For the
question of why the child had committed the act, the results
indicated that there was no association between genetic-
relatedness status and attributional inferences, x2 = 5.43,
df = 6, p = ns. Similarly, for the question of how the child
behaved on a typical day, the results indicated that there
was no association between genetic-relatedness status and the
estimate made of typical behavior, x2 = 3.15, df = 6, p = ns.
When looking just at female raters, however, there was a
trend toward an association between genetic-relatedness
status and attributional responses for the question of how
the child behaves on a typical day, y? 10.17, df = 6, p =
.12. Female raters tended to predict that on a typical day
nonadopted children would be less likely to behave
antisocially and that PGR children would be more likely to
Taken jointly, the MANOVA and chi-square results
indicate a moderating effect of rater gender on the
relationship between genetic-relatedness status and various
rating measures. In other words, among female raters,
genetic-relatedness status could be considered a stigmatizing
attribute in that PGR children were rated consistently less
favorably than were adopted or nonadopted children. Among
male raters, genetic-relatedness status would not be
considered a stigmatizing attribute.
Hypotheses 2. 3 and 4
The second, third' and fourth hypotheses pertained to the
gender of the rater and adopted versus PGR children. To test
these hypotheses, a 2 X 2 MANOVA was performed to examine the
effect of these two categories of genetic-relatedness status
(adopted and PGR) and rater's gender (male and female) on the
evaluation of children's transgressions, using the dependent
variables outlined above.
Looking at only the global rating, no significant main
effect was found for the manipulation of genetic-relatedness
status, F(l,84) = .59, p = ns. Similarly, looking at the
individual trait ratings as well as the estimates of past and'
future behavior, there was no significant main effect of
genetic-relatedness status. There was also no significant
main effect of the raters gender on either the global rating
or the individual trait ratings and estimates of future and
However, a significant interaction between genetic-
relatedness status and rater's gender was found for the
global rating, F(l,84) = 4.52, T]2 = .05, p < .05, as well as
for the pleasantness, F(l,84) = 5.41, r\2 = .06, p < .05,
honesty, F(l,84) = 3.99, ij2 = .05, p < .05, niceness, F(l,84)
= 4.52, Ti2 = .05, p < .05, friendliness, F(l,84) = 6.22, T\2 =
.07, p < .05, and kindness scales, F(l,84) = 5.38, Tj2 = .06,
p < .05. A trend toward significance was noted on the
gentleness, F(l,84) = 3.66, T\2 .04, p = .06, and temper
scales as well, F(l,84) = 2.94, T]2 = .03, p =.09. There were
no significant interaction effects found with respect to the
estimates of future or past behavior or to the selfishness,
goodness, or aggressiveness scales. To examine this
significant interaction, the simple main effects were
The effect of genetic-relatedness status (i.e., adopted
versus PGR) among female raters was significant on the global
rating, F(l,85) = 3.86, T]2 = .04, p < .05, as well as on the
pleasantness, F(l,85) = 6.27, T]2 = .07, p < .05, honesty,
F(l,85) = 6.68, T]2 = .07, p < .05, temper, F(l,85) = 4.98, T]2
= .06, p < .05, niceness, F(l,85) = 4.50, T]2 = .05, p < .05,
and friendliness scales, F(l,85) = 4.88, t\2 = .05, p < .05.
The effect size estimates (T]2) indicate that among female
raters, genetic-relatedness status accounts for between 4%
and 7% of the variance in the global rating as well as for
ratings on the pleasantness, honesty, temper, niceness, and
friendliness scales. These values constitute small to medium
effect sizes (Cohen, 1988). There was no significant effect
noted on the estimates of past or future behavior, or on the
selfishness, goodness, gentleness, aggressiveness, or
kindness scales. On all of these scales, female raters gave
higher (that is, more favorable) ratings to adopted children
than to PGR children.
There was no significant effect of genetic-relatedness
status (i.e., adopted Versus. PGR) among male raters on any of
the scales, though a trend toward significance was noted on
the kindness scale, p = .08.
The effect of rater gender (i.e., male versus female)
on evaluations of PGR children was not significant on the
global rating, but was significant on the friendliness,
F( 1,85) = 4.16, T}2 = . 05, p < in 0 and kindness scales,
F(l,85) = 4.15, C3 II .05, p < .05. There was also a trend
toward significance for the niceness scale, F(l,85) = 3.70,
77^ = .04, p =.06. The effect size estimates (77^) indicate
that rater gender accounted for 5% of the variance in the
friendliness and kindness ratings of the PGR children. This
can be considered a medium effect size (Cohen, 1988). On
these three scales, men rated PGR children more favorably
than women did.
There was no significant effect of rater gender on
evaluations of adopted children.
To examine the effect of genetic-relatedness status on
the attributions regarding why the child had committed the
harmful act and how they behave on a typical day, a 2 X 2
chi-square analysis- was performed using two categories of
genetic-relatedness status (adopted and PGR) and two
categories of rater (male and female). For the question of
why the child had committed the act, the results indicated
that there was no significant association between genetic-
relatedness status, rater's gender, and the attributional
inferences made. Similarly, for the question of how the
child behaves on a typical day, the results indicated that
there was no significant association between genetic-
relatedness status and the estimate made of typical behavior.
Hypothesis #2 postulated that male raters would evaluate
PGR children more favorable than adopted children. The
MANOVA procedure found no significant differences between the
ratings male raters gave PGR children as opposed to adopted
children, with the exception of a trend toward significance
in the expected direction on the kindness scale, F(l,85) =
3.16, T}2 = .04, p = .08.
It is interesting to note, though, that the pattern of
means on most of the scales fell in the expected direction.
In this study, the differences were not statistically
significant. However, a power analysis revealed that because
the effect sizes are small (T)2 ranging from .002 to .036), a
sample 12 to 35 times as large (i.e., n 1548 to 4515) would
be necessary to detect statistically significant results at
the .05 level of significance (Cohen, 1988). Figure 4.3
depicts the means of these scales. On the estimates of
similar past and future acts, as well as on the pleasantness,
honesty, goodness, gentleness, aggressiveness, niceness,
friendliness, kindness, and global scales, male raters rated
PGR children more favorably than they rated adopted children.
Figure 4.3. Means for male raters
On only the selfishness and temper scales was this pattern
not found. Further, on many of these scales (likelihood of a
similar past act, pleasantness, honesty, goodness,
gentleness, niceness, kindness, and global), PGR children
were rated the most favorably and adopted children were rated
the least favorably of all three genetic-relatedness statuses
(i.e., PGR versus adopted versus nonadopted). Given that the
pattern of means was consistent with the hypothesis, the
power analysis performed suggested that a larger sample size
may have yielded statistically significant results.
Hypothesis #3 postulated that male raters would rate PGR
children more favorably than would female raters. The MANOVA
procedure found significant differences on the friendliness,
.F(l,85) = 4.16, 77^ #q5, p < .05, and kindness scales,
Ft 1,85) =4.15, 77^ = .05, p < .05. There was also a trend
toward significance on the niceness scale, F(l,85) = 3.71, vp
- .04, p = .06.
As with hypothesis #2, it is interesting to note that
the pattern of means on all of the other scales, except
aggressiveness, fell in the expected pattern (see Figure
4.4). That is, on all the scales except aggressiveness, male
raters rated PGR children more favorably than did women
raters. Again, in this study, the differences were not
statistically significant. However, a power analysis
revealed that because the effect sizes are small (tj^ ranging
from .005 to .047), a sample 8 to 12 times larger (i.e., n -
111 Female Raters
Figure 4.4. Means of PGR children by rater1s gender
1032 to 1548) would be necessary to detect statistically
significant results at the .05 level of significance (Cohen,
1988). Given that the pattern of means was consistent with
the hypothesis, the power analysis performed suggested that a
larger sample size may have yielded statistically significant
results on more scales.
Hypothesis #4 postulated that female raters would rate
adopted children more favorably than would male raters. The
MANOVA procedure found no significant differences between the
ratings male raters and female raters gave adopted children.
Hypotheses 5 and 6
The fifth and sixth hypotheses dealt with the impact of
rater gender on ratings of adopted girls versus adopted boys.
To test these hypotheses, only adopted children were included
in the 2X2 MANOVA performed to examine the effect of child
gender (boy versus girl) and rater gender (male versus
female) on the evaluation of children's transgressions, using
the dependent variables previously outlined.
The only significant main effect of child gender was on
the selfishness scale, F(l,40) = 5.78, T]^ = .13, p < .05.
Here, adopted boys were rated more favorably (that is, as
less selfish) than were adopted girls.
There were no significant main effects of rater gender.
On the pleasantness scale, however, there was a trend toward
significance noted, F(l,40) = 3.47, rj2 = .08, p = .07. Here,
female raters tended to rate adopted children as more
pleasant than did male raters.
There were no significant interactions found between the
gender of an adopted child and the rater's gender.
To examine the effect of genetic-relatedness status on
the attributions regarding why the child had committed the
harmful act and how they behave on a typical day, a 2 X 2
chi-square analysis was performed on the ratings of adopted
children using the two categories of child gender (boy versus
girl) and the two categories of rater gender (male versus
female). For the question of why the child had committed the
act, the results indicated that there was no significant
association between the child's gender, the rater's gender,
and the attributional inferences made. Similarly, for the
question of how the child behaved on a typical day, the
results indicated that there was no significant association
between the child's gender, the rater's gender, and the
estimate made of typical behavior.
Hypothesis #5 postulated that male raters would rate
adopted girls more favorably than they would adopted boys.
The MANOVA results indicated that there were no significant
differences on any scale when looking at how male raters
evaluated adopted girls versus adopted boys. Thus, no
evidence was found to support this hypothesis.
Hypothesis #6 postulated that female raters would
evaluate adopted boys and adopted girls similarly. The
MANOVA results indicated that the only significant difference
between how female raters view adopted boys and adopted girls
was on the selfishness scale, F(l,41) = 6.68, f]^ .14, p <
.05. Female raters rated adopted girls as more selfish than
adopted boys. There were no other significant differences on
any scale between how female raters view adopted boys and
adopted girls. Thus, with the exception of the selfishness
scale, this hypothesis was supported.
The results of this study indicate that, even in
situations where behavior is identical, children will be
evaluated differently as a function of their genetic-
relatedness status and the gender of the evaluator. The
results indicate the existence of a moderating effect (cf.
Aguinis, in press) of rater gender on the relationship
between genetic-relatedness status and various rating
measures. Figure 5.1 depicts this relationship.
Genetic-Relatedness Status as a Negative Attribute
The first four hypotheses postulated that genetic-
relatedness status may be a stigmatizing or negative
attribute and that, because of differences in the ways men
Figure 5.1. Model illustrating the moderating effect of rater gender on
the relationship between genetic-relatedness status and evaluations
and women react to infertility as well as sociocultural
differences between men and women, the gender of the rater
would affect the evaluation made. The results of this study
provide evidence to support this hypothesis. Among female
raters, genetic-relatedness status could be considered a
negative attribute in that PGR children were rated
consistently less favorably than were either adopted or
nonadopted children. Among male raters, genetic-relatedness
status would not be considered a negative attribute.
No significant differences existed between the ratings of
adopted versus nonadopted children, either by male or female
raters. In practical terms, then, this study provides
evidence to challenge the existing anecdotal evidence in the
literature which contends that being adopted carries with it a
stigma (Brodzinsky, 1984; Miall, 1987). A weakness of the
previous studies is that they did not directly measure
attitudes toward adopted children. This study, using an
experimental design, indicated that being adopted is not a
For PGR children, however, the results suggest that their
genetic-relatedness status mav affect evaluations of them.
The results suggested several differences with regard to PGR
children. First, females rated PGR children significantly
less favorably than either adopted or nonadopted children.
Second, when male raters evaluated only PGR and adopted
children, there was a tendency for males to evaluate PGR
children more favorably than adopted children. Third, when
looking only at PGR children, males tended to evaluate the
children more favorably than did females. Thus, it appears
that men may have an overall positive affective reaction to
PGR children and women may have an overall negative affective
reaction to them. The possible reasons behind these results
The finding that being adopted did not seem to be a
negative attribute was unexpected. One explanation is that,
despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, there is, in fact,
no negative stereotype of adopted children. People may not
think of adopted children as being second rate, having "bad
blood," or having a suspect genetic background (Miall, 1987).
It may not be the case that people expect more problematic
behavior from adopted children as compared to nonadopted
children (Kirk, 1964, 1981). This line of reasoning is
consistent with previous research which found that adoptive
status did not affect evaluations made by mental health
professionals about hypothetical adopted and nonadopted
adolescent clients (Weiss, 1987). However, it may also be
that it is not a stereotype for college students or better
educated samples, but that it is for the population in
It is also possible that the adoption process itself may
be perceived negatively, but that this negative perception
does not extend to children who are adopted. This explanation
would be consistent with Miall's (1987) contention that the
process of adoption may be stigmatizing to the adoptive
parents because it makes their infertility public.
This study provides no information on whether the process
of adoption is stigmatizing or not. It does indicate that, at
least in cases where a child's transgression is being
evaluated, the fact that a child is adopted does not give rise
to negative perceptions or attributions. It is also
conceivable that being adopted is considered a negative
attribute, but that the sample used was too small to detect
Partially Genetically Related (PGR) Status
A child's status as PGR does appear to give rise to
negative perceptions in cases where the person doing the
evaluating is female. The finding that females rated PGR
children more negatively than adopted or nonadopted children
partially supports the anecdotal evidence alluding to
perceived negative social attitudes toward either the process
of artificial insemination or the children horn of AID (Dunn,
Ryan, & O'Brien, 1988; Herz, 1989; McWhinnie, 1992; Rowland,
1985; Sparks & Hamilton, 1991). A strength of this study is
that these effects were found using an experimental design.
Male raters, however, did not perceive PGR children
negatively. Therefore, the question of whether being PGR is
a negative attribute depends on the gender of the rater.
Although this study cannot identify the reasons for
these gender differences, possible explanations stem from the
earlier discussion of biological relatedness, infertility,
and artificial insemination as a remedy for male infertility.
First, one explanation is that, for women, biological
relatedness is not a crucial aspect of achieving motherhood.
If biological relatedness were key, women would be expected
to rate PGR children more favorably than adopted children
because PGR children are at least genetically related to the
mother. The fact that women rated adopted children more
favorably than PGR children challenges the sociobiological
perspective which would predict that women would favor the
passing of of their own genes rather than investing in the
offspring of another.
This finding also challenges the notion of the
importance of apparent (if not genuine) patrilineality to
women. In other words, if it were important to women to
create the appearance that the husband were the biological
father, then PGR children should be favored over adopted
children. This is not the case. Thus, it may be that the
sense of patrilineality and protection of the man's sense of
virility are not important factors for women.
Another explanation for this finding is that the process
of artificial insemination with donor sperm does not appeal
to women as a remedy for male infertility. It may be that
women do not like artificial insemination by donor because
they want to avoid the negative ramifications of the
procedure, such as the sense of guilt, indecency, and taboo
(Rowland, 1985). Further, women may fear the potential power
differential that could develop in a relationship as a result
of the fact that the wife is biologically linked to the child
and the husband is not (Rowland, 1985). Finally, women may
find the idea of creating a child with anonymous sperm to be
repugnant and smacking of adultery.
The question then arises as to why men view PGR children
differently than do women. Men do not view PGR children more
negatively than adopted children. In fact, though the
findings were not statistically significant with the sample
size used in this study, the data suggest that men rate PGR
children more favorably than adopted children. One possible
explanation for this finding is that apparent biological
connectedness and patrilineality are very important to men,
more so than to women. This contention is consistent with
earlier research which indicated that biological relatedness
holds the greatest import for men (Crowe, 1985; Williams,
Another possible explanation is that men approve of the
process of artificial insemination because it enables men to
conceal infertility and thus protects them from public
discreditation and shame as a result of infertility. Thus,
while the male raters were not reacting to their own children
and therefore had nothing to gain on a personal level from
the child's status as PGR in this scenario, it may be that
the process of artificial insemination is favored by men
because it protects the "collective virility" of manhood from
discreditation and shame.
Adopted Bovs Versus Adopted Girls
Another hypothesis set forth in this study involved the
evaluation of adopted boys versus adopted girls and possible
rating differences as a function of rater gender. It was
postulated that because men value a sense of patrilineality,
they would evaluate adopted girls more favorably than adopted
boys, perhaps because adopting a girl does not disrupt the
patrilineal descent system in which male descent lines must
be kept genetically pure (Kirk, 1964). No evidence was found
to support this hypothesis. Male raters evaluated adopted
boys and girls similarly. Thus, it may be that preserving
genuine patrilineality (i.e., a pure decent line) may not be
of crucial importance to men.
Because patrilineality was not postulated to be of such
import for women, it was hypothesized that women would rate
adopted girls and boys similarly. This hypothesis was
supported; women rated adopted girls and boys similarly on
virtually all measures.
In sum, then, the findings of this study suggest that
for women, artificial insemination by donor may be less
favored as a remedy for male infertility than is adoption.
It may be that biological relatedness or patrilineality is
not a crucial aspect when achieving motherhood. It may also
be that the process of artificial insemination itself may be
perceived negatively by some women. The findings also
suggest that men may be more approving of artificial
insemination by donor than adoption as a remedy to male
infertility. The reasons for this may be that apparent (if
not genuine) biological connectedness, virility, and the
avoidance of public discreditation for infertility are
crucial factors for men.
Implications and Limitations
The finding that females may see a child's PGR status as
a negative attribute could have serious implications. For
example, given that the vast majority of preschool and
elementary teachers are female, the fact that females appear
to evaluate children differently as a function of their
genetic-relatedness status could have an impact on many
children. Negative perceptions of PGR children could lead to
negative or low expectations of them, which could, in turn,
affect the behavior and development of these children. Past
research has demonstrated marked changes in student
achievement due to teacher expectations and corresponding
favorable treatment in the classroom (Farrel, 1986). Thus,
it is crucial to identify and understand these perceptions.
Another reason why the findings of this study are
important is that many women will face issues of infertility
within their own lives. In order for people to make the best
choices for themselves and their potential or future
children, it is vital that the ramifications of various modern
reproductive techniques be identified and well understood.
A limitation of the study is that only a negative context
(i.e., when the child was acting badly) was used to evaluate
reactions to children based on their genetic-relatedness
status. Therefore, the negative attributional effects noted
cannot be assumed to exist in other situations. It is unknown
whether similar results would be found if the context used was
neutral or positive.
Another limitation is that the sample used in this study
was fairly small (n = 129) and consisted entirely of college
students (largely Psychology majors) from an affluent,
primarily Caucasian community. Most of the subjects were
single and nonadopted. Because this sample is not
representative of the population, the generalizability of these
findings cannot be assumed.
However, the fact that these results were obtained even
among such a sample lends even more importance to the findings.
Because many of the future teachers, counselors, and
professionals of the world will come from a population such as
the sample used, the finding that females from such a sample
may see a child's PGR status as a negative attribute could have
serious detrimental consequences for these children.
Suggestions for Future Research
The results of this study indicate that enough evidence
exists to warrant further research. Future research should
investigate the generalizability of these findings to
populations other than college students. Further, because
this study only examined the impact of genetic-relatedness
status on the evaluations of transgressions (i.e., in a
negative context), future research could investigate whether
genetic-relatedness status and rater gender impact
evaluations in other contexts. Also, research using a more
diverse sample should be performed to verify the tendency for
males to rate PGR children more favorably than adopted
In this study, only perceptions of children unrelated to
the subjects were assessed. It is unknown whether similar
results would be found if the subjects were evaluating their
own children, e.g., if women would perceive their own PGR
child relatively negatively or if men would perceive their
own PGR child relatively positively. Further research could
investigate this question.
While this study identified the existence of an effect
of genetic-relatedness status, as moderated by rater gender,
on the evaluation of children in a particular context, the
study did not identify any causes for this effect. While
several possible explanations have been offered to explain
these results, these explanations need to be empirically
tested. Thus, future research could investigate the reasons
behind the interactions between genetic-relatedness status
and rater gender.
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