Although some of the methods used to examine aspects of motherhood can be applied to research about fatherhood, the maternal construct will not include specific characteristics that distinguish fathers and mothers. This chapter reviews methodological issues in the study of fathers and fatherhood. It highlights three basic questions that should be answered in the design of research about fathers: the definition of father, the perspectives that should be considered, and the methods that should be applied. The text explains that the absence of one unifying theory of fatherhood requires the use of multiple theories, including developmental systems theory, to study fathers. Cultural and evolutionary perspectives also may be used, as well as an approach that facilitates the application of research to social policy. The chapter outlines research methods such as qualitative and quantitative studies, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, sampling strategies, and the recruitment and retention techniques. The selection of measures for fathers is discussed in terms of indicators that apply to fathers, instruments developed for different kinds of fathers, and issues regarding the adaptation of existing instruments. The chapter recommends that future research about fathers include qualitative analyses and the integration of methods used by other disciplines. A multilevel theory of fathering and fatherhood also should be developed to explain the direct and indirect effects of father actions. 46 references.
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