Based on our study, we believe the fathers’ empathy and declining testosterone level shaped how they responded.
For example, if fathers interpret infant crying as a means of communicating distress and empathize with the infant, they will experience a decline in testosterone. This, in turn, facilitates a nurturing response.
Alternatively, when fathers interpret their infant’s crying as aggravating and feel they are unable to comfort the infant, they may experience increases in testosterone, which facilitates an intrusive or negative response. Intervention efforts can be directed at helping fathers comfort their crying infants in a calming manner.
When fathers soothe, they feel better, too
By Brenda Volling,
Professor of Psychology,
University of Michigan