Identity Theory as a Guide to Understanding Fathers' Involvement With Their Children

Thomas R. Rane, Brent A. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identity theory was used to explore fathers' involvement with their children. Eighty-nine married couples with preschool children completed questionnaires and interviews providing information on how involved they were in child-rearing activities. Participants rated the centrality of their parent versus worker status and of the nurturing role. Results indicated that fathers did not differ on any involvement measures regardless of whether they rated the parent or worker status most central. However, fathers who considered the nurturing role highly central to their sense of self engaged in significantly more interaction and responsibility behaviors with their children and were significantly more involved overall than fathers low on nurturing role centrality. Specific behaviors and attitudes of mothers were significantly related to fathers' assessments of nurturing role centrality. Results hold important implications for the refinement of identity theory and for the development of parenting programs and public policy initiatives designed to increase father involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-366
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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