A dad might not know what he’s doing if he’s not wearing a hat, according to a new study from the University of Exeter.
Dr Robert Hensley from the Department of Anthropology at the university studied how the behaviour of adults changed as they transitioned from a “natural” headgear to one that was more culturally acceptable.
“When we started to work with these children, they were told by their parents that they had to wear hats because they would be ridiculed for it, they would get laughed at and they would become sick if they didn’t wear it,” Dr Hensle told Newshub.
“And I’m thinking, ‘Well, you know, it’s not as bad as you think.'”
So they started wearing hats, and then it became obvious that it was really socially acceptable to wear a hat.
“In fact, we found that when they were shown photographs of children wearing hats and told that the pictures were funny, the children actually started to wear the hats and that the adults were more accepting of the children’s wearing of hats.”
Dr Hensfield also said the children were more tolerant of each other’s hair styles, and the more they were asked about what they would wear, the more tolerant they became.
The study looked at more than 300 children aged between two and 11 and also compared them to an equal number of adults aged from 20 to 75.
It found that, overall, the parents were more likely to encourage the children to wear headgear, and were more supportive of their children wearing the headgear.
“They were very tolerant of children’s hairstyles, and very accepting of hairstyles that were less culturally acceptable,” Dr Hansley said.
“I think this is really important because when you get a lot of kids that are growing up in an environment where they’re being told to wear something that is not culturally appropriate, they can start to have more problems than they think they are.”
He said that parents were also more likely than adults to help their children find appropriate ways to express themselves.
“What we found was that children who were raised in households that were more open and accepting were also able to identify more with other kids,” he said.
Dr Hinsley said that the study was an important step in exploring the link between culture and headgear wear, as the results suggested that parents did not need to wear their children’s hair in a specific way.
“We’ve got a lot to learn from this,” he added.
“The idea that the cultural change of the past has been for children to have a particular hairstyle or to wear particular hats or to be more assertive in their own lives is really interesting, but it also opens up a new area of study to explore.”