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Project 1: Dual Identities and Cooperation Between Partners

Challenge 2: Facilitating Work-Life Balance

Aim of the project

Examine conditions under which intimate partners achieve relationship stability and satisfaction. What is the influence of life events such as the birth of a child, and of changes at work of the partners? Under what condition does behavior at work lead to positive spillover in the relationship between partners? Why are family and work ideals different from actual behavior?

Theoretical background

A key challenge in the care domain relates to the interaction between different cooperative roles of partners in family and work. With important life events, such as the birth of a first child, the cooperation between partners is likely to shift and spillover effects (between partners, between family and work) will be observed. Changes might vary by (1) processes of identity, (2) expectations and ideals, (3) pressure from the social environment (4) and the work environment. Also feelings of fairness play a role. Negotiations that take place before the birth of a child may help to counteract retreating towards traditional roles. 

Research design

Firstly, data are used from the Mom in Balance Study, a longitudinal study among female professionals in the Netherlands who are expecting their first child. The study consists of 3 waves (3 months before birth, 3 months after birth and year after birth). Measurements consist of developments in implicit gender roles, work-family balance, division of work and care with partner. Secondly, this study will be expanded to a number of countries in Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway), the USA and Asia (Singapore, Japan) to test for context effects (institutional arrangements, differences in national gender equality). Thirdly, an intervention will be formulated and tested to help increase relationship stability between partners.


Baxter, J., Buchler, S., Perales, F., & Western, M. (2015). A life-changing event: First births and men's and women's attitudes to mothering and gender divisions of labor. Social Forces, 93, 989-1014.

Endendijk, J., Derks, B., & Mesman, J. (in press). Does parenthood change implicit gender-role stereotypes and behaviors? Journal of Marriage and Family.

Bittman, M., England, P., Sayer, L., Folbre, N., & Matheson, G. (2003). When does gender trump money? Bargaining and time in household work. American Journal of Sociology, 109, 186-214. doi:10.1086/378341

Project initiators

Belle Derks, Pearl Dykstra


Utrecht University, Department of Social Psychology


Psychological expertise, preferrably with an interest in family sociology

How to Apply

For background information on this vacancy and further instructions, click here.


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