Not only did participants perceive the voluntarily childfree male and female subjects to be “significantly less psychologically fulfilled than targets with two children,” Ashburn-Nardo notes, they also reported “significantly greater moral outrage” toward them. These findings offer evidence for the theory that parenthood is seen by some as a moral imperative: “In other words,” the study states, “not having children is seen not only as atypical but also as wrong.”

An interest in having children is “both a prescriptive and descriptive stereotype for men and women,” the researcher writes. “hen people violate strongly held norms and expectations such as those regarding parenthood and interest in children … there are potentially serious consequences. … This backlash is justified in the minds of perceivers because the targets are thought to have brought it upon themselves by not fulfilling their expected roles.”

Ashburb-Nardo draws attention to the fact that both men and women were stigmatized for choosing not to have kids—despite the fact that the conversation around reproductive rights and a woman’s right to choose is so polarizing. “I was somewhat surprised by this too,” she tells Broadly, “but that was probably due to my own personal experiences as a woman. When I looked at the past literature, the few studies that included opportunities for participants to rate men without children yielded similar findings.”

#research: people morally outraged by other people who don't want kids - @broadly