London: It's not only women, but men also suffer from "baby fever" -- the desperate desire to be apparent -- though overall they want sex rather than fatherhood, says a new study.
"Baby fever" is usually associated with women, who suddenly become conscious of their maternal urges. But, a team at Kansas State University has now claimed that men too suffer from the phenomenon.
"Baby fever is this idea out in popular media that at some point in their lives, people get this sudden change in their desire to have children. While it is often portrayed in women, we noticed it in men, too," Gary Brase, who led the study, was quoted by the daily as saying.
In their study, the researchers started by applying three different theoretical viewpoints about baby fever.
One is the socio-cultural view: People want to have a baby because they are taught gender roles. Women think they should have children because society dictates that is what they are supposed to do.
Another reason is the by-product view: Humans have an ingrained desire to nurture -- when they see a cute baby they want to take care of it, and that makes them want a baby of their own.
The third is the adaptations view; Baby fever is an emotional signal -- like a suggestion sent from one part of the mind to the other parts -- that this could be a good time to have a child.
The researchers then performed experiments to understand people's desires, particularly the wish to have a baby.
Professor Brase said, "Sometimes you may have a desire to have a baby, sometimes you have desires to have money or be famous or have sex. We asked people to tell us where these desires ranked." The researchers found that baby fever did exist in both genders. But while women more frequently desired having a child than having sex, men more frequently desired sex than having a child.”
"We found this kind of ironic because sex and having a baby are causally related," Prof Brase said.
The researchers also asked people to describe what led them to want and not want to have a baby and found three contributing factors.
The first was positive exposure -- such as holding and cuddling babies, looking after babies and looking at baby clothes and toys; the second included negative exposure such as babies crying, children having tantrums and nappies that made people not want to have a baby.
The third factor included trade-offs that come with having children -- education, career, money and social life.
Prof Brase said, "We had people who were high on the positive aspects and they see all the good things about babies and want a baby. We also had people who were high on the negative aspects and absolutely do not want to have babies.
"Then we had people who were high on both positive and negative aspects and were very conflicted. Having children is kind of the reason we exist -- to reproduce and pass our genes on to the next generation."