In a country where traditional gender roles are still largely considered the norm, it’s not surprising for women to be consumed with the desire to have children. Considering other factors such as the “biological clock”, it is more common for women to want to get pregnant as their level of fertility and physical capability for childbirth dips with age.
A new study, however, published in the journal Emotion, shows that baby fever - that irresistible urge to have a child - also occurs in men.
To explain how baby fever occurs, the researchers first took into consideration a theoretical standpoint, first on gender roles and the idea that women think they should have children because that’s what they should do.
The second theory looked at the human capacity for nurturing. Says Gary Brase, associate professor of psychology at the Kansas State University, “"We checked whether it is due to people looking at someone else's child and then having that trigger a misplaced sense of nurturing… but it wasn't that either." The third theory looked at timing, how the brain could be sending a message that it would be an appropriate time to have a child. But according to answers the researchers collected from a total of 337 undergraduate students and 853 general population participants, none of the abovementioned theories seemed to have had a bearing on baby fever.
The first two theories had more of a visual sensory nature. Says Brase, “Seeing a baby, hearing a baby, smelling a baby led some people to want to have a baby."
On the other hand, smelling a dirty diaper, hearing a baby wailing, or other unpleasant experiences associated with babies resulted in a decline in “baby fever.”