Did Descriptive and Prescriptive Norms About Gender Equality at Home Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic? A Cross-National Investigation

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Franziska Magdalena Saxler
  • Angela R. Dorrough
  • Laura Froehlich
  • Katharina Block
  • Alyssa Croft
  • Loes Meeussen
  • Maria Olsson
  • Toni Schmader
  • Sanne van Grootel
  • Colette Van Laar
  • Ciara Atkinson
  • Tessa Benson-Greenwald
  • Andreea Birneanu
  • Vladimira Cavojova
  • Sapna Cheryan
  • Albert Lee Kai Chung
  • Ivan Danyliuk
  • Ilan Dar-Nimrod
  • Soledad de Lemus
  • Amanda Diekman
  • Léïla Eisner
  • Lucía Estevan-Reina
  • Denisa Fedáková
  • Alin Gavreliuc
  • Dana Gavreliuc
  • Adriana Germano
  • Tabea Hässler
  • Levke Henningsen
  • Keiko Ishii
  • Eva Kundtová Klocová
  • Inna Kozytska
  • Clara Kulich
  • Christina Lapytskaia Aidy
  • Wilson López López
  • James Morandini
  • Tamil Selvan Ramis
  • Carolin Scheifele
  • Jennifer Steele
  • Melanie C. Steffens
  • Laura María Velásquez Díaz
  • Mar Venegas
  • Sarah E. Martiny

Using data from 15 countries, this article investigates whether descriptive and prescriptive gender norms concerning housework and child care (domestic work) changed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of a total of 8,343 participants (M = 19.95, SD = 1.68) from two comparable student samples suggest that descriptive norms about unpaid domestic work have been affected by the pandemic, with individuals seeing mothers’ relative to fathers’ share of housework and child care as even larger. Moderation analyses revealed that the effect of the pandemic on descriptive norms about child care decreased with countries’ increasing levels of gender equality; countries with stronger gender inequality showed a larger difference between pre- and post-pandemic. This study documents a shift in descriptive norms and discusses implications for gender equality—emphasizing the importance of addressing the additional challenges that mothers face during health-related crises.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Number of pages15
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29.01.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research project was conceived following the award of an SSHRC Insight Development Grant (430-2018-00361) and a grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (895-2017-1025) to Toni Schmader. Additional funding included a SSHRC Insight Grant awarded to J. R. Steele (435-2014-1247) and a SSHRC doctoral fellowship awarded to C. Lapytskaia Aidy; funding from State Research Agency awarded to Soledad de Lemus (PID2019-111549GB-I00/10.13039/501100011033); funding from the research infrastructure HUME Lab Experimental Humanities Laboratory, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University awarded to Eva Kundtová-Klocová; a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation awarded to Tabea Hässler (P1ZHP1_184553) and Léïla Eisner (P2LAP1_194987); funding from Slovak Research and Development Agency project (APVV 20-0319) awarded to Denisa Fedáková.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, cross-national comparison, descriptive gender norms, domestic work, gender stereotypes, prescriptive gender norms, work-family division
  • Psychology