Still think that Cinderella is all fun and games? Think again. There’s a certain term called the Cinderella Effect which is used by psychologists to describe stepchildren who are being physically abused, sexually abused, neglected or murdered. The Cinderella Effect basically describes mistreated stepchildren who are at the hands of their stepparents instead of their biological parents.

The effect has been called “one of the poster-children of evolutionary psychology.” It obviously takes its name from the fairytale where Cinderella is mistreated by her stepfamily.  This effect was discovered in the early 1970s, the theory was discovered by forensic psychiatrist P.D. Scott, he made the link between stepparents and maltreated children.

Many years of research was done to prove this hypothesis. The studies concluded that stepchildren in Canada, Britain and United States were under the Cinderella Effect. For over 30 years, data was collected to prove this fact, the link has to do with stepfamily relationships and abuse.

Some of the data found was collected by psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, they studied the emphasis in Neuroscience and Behaviour. In order to validate the Cinderella Effect theory, they looked at archives of child abuse reports in the United States from the American Humane Association (AHA), there were over twenty thousand reports.  All in all, what they found was that children living with stepparents had a higher chance of abuse.

Some people are sceptic to this theory, they think that factors such as poverty can have an impact on child abuse. However, the Cinderella Effect can make a lot of sense for several families. Like Cinderella, not everyone loves their new stepfamily.

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