Samples Psychology The Cinderella Effect

The Cinderella Effect

291 words 1 page(s)

The Cinderella Effect is a theory developed by evolutionary psychologists that describes the way in which step-parents care for and relate to stepchildren in relation to how they treat their own biological children. The theory has been extensively used to compare differences in abuse rates that exist between stepchildren and biological offspring. Such efforts allowed researchers to conclude that relationships between stepchildren and a non-biological parent will never be the same as with their own biological offspring, thus it is far likelier that there will be a higher number of stepchildren who will be abused (neglected and murdered as well).

At first reading the theory seems a stretch, predominately because there was no reason to suspect that in such parenting arraignments the level of parental care, or instances of abuse, would actually differ. The assumption being blended families are comprised of parents who treat children equally, or at least a process of negotiation had occurred eventually establishing family boundaries, rules and norms.

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But this occurs not to be the case because as researchers have discovered there to be a higher likelihood that stepchildren will be abused than will biological offspring. Daly and Wilson (2008) studied the homicide rates of children around the world and found that stepparents are 100 times more likely to beat young children to death than are biological parents. When studying the death rates of children, ages five and younger, in Canada between years 1974-1990 they found that stepchildren were 120 times more likely to be killed by a stepfather (Daly & Wilson, 2008).

This evidence, which appears to support the theory, indicates that family therapists and social workers should be a bit more vigilant in blended family situations, and focus on developing strong emotional bonds specifically between a stepparent and non-biological child.

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