Daly and colleagues have overestimated the magnitude of the “Cinderella effect” in lethal child abuse, and underestimated the role of confounding variables in its explanation. A reply to Daly (2022)

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Nobes et al. (2019) used updated data from the same source-the British Home Office's Homicide Index-as that used by Daly and Wilson (1994) to investigate the Cinderella effect (increased risk to stepchildren), and in particular their claim (e.g., Daly, 2022; Daly & Wilson, 1994, 2001, 2008) that stepfathers fatally assault their young children at rates more than 100 times those of genetic fathers. Nobes et al. reported much lower-though still substantial-increased risk to young stepchildren, and little or none to older children, particularly when they took the mislabeling of noncohabiting perpetrators into account. In his Commentary, Daly (2022) largely accepts this analysis, but does not acknowledge its implications for his own findings and claims. Nobes et al. also reported that controlling for father's age accounted for much of the remaining increased risk, and argued that this and other confounding variables are likely to explain most or all of the Cinderella effect. Daly says very little about this too, but instead responds with a series of criticisms, many of which misrepresent Nobes et al.'s account, and most of which are incorrect. Young stepchildren are at increased risk, but if stepparenthood per se (i.e., lack of genetic relatedness) contributes to the explanation, its influence is considerably less than Daly claims. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3599–3604
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Stepfathers
  • stepchildren
  • child homicide
  • filicide
  • Cinderella effect
  • stepfathers

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