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Development of Sex-Trait Stereotypes among Young Children in the United States, England, and Ireland

Deborah L. Best, John E. Williams, Jonathan M. Cloud, Stephen W. Davis, Linda S. Robertson, John R. Edwards, Howard Giles and Jacqueline Fowles
Child Development
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Dec., 1977), pp. 1375-1384
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1128496
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1128496
Page Count: 10
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Development of Sex-Trait Stereotypes among Young Children in the United States, England, and Ireland
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Abstract

The Sex Stereotype Measure II (SSM II), a 32-item revision of the Williams, Bennett, and Best Sex Stereotype Measure, was developed to assess children's knowledge of conventional, sex-trait sterotypes defined by American university students. The procedure employed brief stories and human figure silhouettes which were individually administered to 5- and 8-year-old children in the United States, England, and Ireland and group administered to 11-year-olds in the United States. In the United States, knowledge of sex-trait stereotypes was found to develop in a linear fashion between the ages of 5 and 11, with more male traits than female traits being known at each age level. Cross-nationally, there was a high degree of similarity in the nature of the sex stereotypes being learned by the children in the 3 countries, although the rate of learning appeared slower among the Irish children. In all countries there was a clear progression in sex-stereotype learning from age 5 to age 8. English boys had greater knowledge of stereotypes than English girls, but this was not true in Ireland and the United States. Generally, knowledge of male stereotype traits appeared to develop earlier while knowledge of the female traits increased more rapidly between ages 5 and 8. The similarity in sex-stereotype learning in the 3 countries is discussed, and studies in progress in other countries of greater cultural diversity are noted.

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