New research published in the 2010 American Journal of Men’s Health shows that fatherhood can dramatically alter a man’s behavior.
The 18-month study of 230 divorced fathers of kids ages 4-11 found that father involvement led to better health choices such as drinking less alcohol.
Study results also found that the hormonal changes exhibited during fatherhood influences the decisions men make about taking risks.
“Fatherhood prompts men to be less self-centered, more giving and more outward-focused. It can prompt them to be more responsible and become more mature, especially to temper some of their risks," says Richard Settersten Jr., professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
University of Las Vegas Anthropologist Peter Gray describes these findings in his co-authored book Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior.
"This effort is also benefited by new technologies — the ability to measure testosterone in saliva opens up new research avenues. You can recruit more men to participate in studies on the physiology of fatherhood if you have measures that are less invasive than, say, blood draws," Gray explained.
A study published last fall by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that men experience a drop in testosterone levels when they become first-time fathers.
Michael Simmons admits that he’s experienced the study results first-hand since the births of his 3-year-old daughter Halle and 18-month-old son Jayden.
"I'll be driving somewhere and feeling like I have more responsibility. … I wasn't a very risky person at all, but now I have that voice in my head," Simmons confessed.
This study is one of the first to research the impact of parenthood on adults rather than the child.