Elizabeth Harvey, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, examined the long-term effects of parental employment during the children’s first three years of life. Dr. Elizabeth based her study on the development areas of cognitive, academic, behavioral issues, compliance and self-esteem. Based on the study of 6000 children she reported “no significant main effects” of early maternal employment. According to Dr. Harvey, the study “partially supported the hypothesis that early parental employment has a positive effect on children’s development by increasing family income” (Harvey, 1999).
However, this study had several variables considered by the researcher, which confound the findings. The first variable that does not really support the findings is that the sample families studied by the researcher did not represent the average American family. The study had disproportionate number of single mothers, which made the study to base on a variable that did not support the findings. Another factor that invalidates the results is the fact that more than half of the sample mothers belonged to a minority group. These facts have made the sample families studied heterogeneous and hence this variable is confounding the finding (Rutberg, 1999).
The study by Dr. Harvey did not address the issue of day care and mental health in respect of middle or higher-income families, as the study confined to families having average family income of $ 15,000 to $ 24,000, which is not even half of the national norm for an average family income. The average age of the mothers considered was 23, which again does not represent a homogeneous population. As mentioned by Dr. Harvey, the results of the study cannot be generalized to older or higher socioeconomic status parents.
The study by Dr. Harvey focused exclusively on aspects of behavior, cognitive and academic development. However, there are other factors such as the capacity of the children to love, intimacy, commitment, spiritual strength and other feelings, which also need consideration for assessing the cognitive ability and mental health of the children. Independent morality and overall happiness are some of the other factors, which the study should have considered to arrive at the findings. The average IQ of the mothers studied around 70 is another variable, which might vitiate the findings of the study, as the average IQ is found to be 100.
The age of the children studied is another variable, which confounds the findings of the study. Dr. Harvey studied the behavior and cognitive ability of children up to the age of twelve. However, according to other psychologists like Dr. Diane Fisher, in some cases of children, problems might surface only when they reach adolescence or adulthood. The study has not taken into account this fact.
Thus, the study by Dr. Harvey had taken into account some variables, which confound the findings of the study. Consideration of such variables does not provide conclusive findings, which can be generalized to average families, in which case they cannot also be applied to higher-income and two-professional families. The results of the study therefore can be interpreted within the context of the limitations of the study. These limitations are posed by the variables selected by the researcher for the study. These limitations make generalization of the findings difficult.
Harvey, D. (1999). Mothers’ Employment Works for Children. Journal of Development Psychology.
Rutberg, S. C. (1999). Misleading APA Press Release Results in Media Brouhaha. Web.