Some psychologists and sociologists are interested in how children from different socioeconomic conditions develop psychologically. One recent press report in Yahoo started with this sobering but unsurprising summary of past research, namely:
For children, the effects of poverty can manifest in surprising ways. Recent research shows that growing up in stressful economic conditions can disrupt brain development, alter behavior, and challenge emotions.
Ignoring the causal language for now, you could note that this paragraph indicates three possible target correlations: One between poverty and brain development, one between poverty and behavior, and one between poverty and emotions.
But then, the story notes the following:
But for boys, on the whole, the outcome is worse.
This indicates that gender is a moderator of the relationship between poverty and psychological outcomes. Let's go back to the story to find out more.
Researchers studied the health, academic, and disciplinary records of more than 1 million kids born in low-income households in Florida between 1992 and 2002. They found that boys born to single mothers with little education, living in low-income neighborhoods, and enrolled in poor-quality public schools experienced higher rates of truancy and behavioral issues into middle school compared with their sisters.
a) Based on the paragraph above, make a table of results similar to the moderator examples in Chapter 8, showing how this moderator might have been represented. You'll have to make up some correlations, but make sure they match the results indicated. Hint: Your moderator is gender, and your target relationship is the correlation between poverty and truancy/behavioral issues.
The story goes on in the next paragraph:
[Poorer] boys also showed higher rates of cognitive disability, scored lower on standardized tests, and were less likely to graduate from high school relative to girls. They were also more likely to encounter the juvenile justice system.
b) Make another moderator table (using the one you did in question a as a model) depicting one of the results in the above paragraph.
Why does gender moderate the relationship between poverty and outcomes? Importantly, the answer is NOT because "boys are more likely to be poor" or that "boys are more likely to be truant." Instead, a moderator is about how the relationship between poverty and truancy is stronger for one group (boys) than the other (girls). For boys, poverty has a stronger effect. In still other words, boys are more vulnerable to poverty.
The researchers cited in the Yahoo story present a at least one guess about why gender is a moderator. Notice that they use the term "vulnerability," which is a good one to use when you're talking about a moderator.
One explanation for boys being particularly vulnerable in single-mother, low socioeconomic households is that they lacked a father figure in the home. Researchers pointed to existing studies showing that parents typically spend more time with the child of their own sex—mothers with their daughters and fathers with their sons.
Presumably, by spending more time with their daughters than with their sons, moms living in poverty might be buffering the effects of poverty in girls, and leaving boys somewhat more vulnerable.