She said it seems unlikely that the more stressed-out participants had poorer relationships with their fathers as children because their own personalities made it difficult for bonds to develop.
But she acknowledged that the study doesn't prove cause-and-effect, and it's possible that another factor could explain a link between adult responses to stress and father-son relationships. More research would could shed additional light on the subject, she said.
The researchers conceded that the study had some limitations. For one thing, it only included adults raised by a male-female couple and it relied on individual memories of childhood experiences, which may have been biased.
Louise Silverstein, a psychology professor at Yeshiva University in New York City who's familiar with the study results, cautioned that they shouldn't be "over-interpreted," especially in light of other research that shows that "boys do not need role models in order to become healthy men."
For more on parenting, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Melanie Mallers, assistant professor, Ph.D., California State University at Fullerton; Louise Silverstein, Ph.D., psychology professor, Yeshiva University, Bronx, N.Y.; American Psychological Association, annual convention, San Diego, Aug. 12, 2010
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