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The Eye of the Very Young Beholder: Sex Typing of Infants by Young Children

Susan Sterkel Haugh, Charles D. Hoffman and Gloria Cowan
Child Development
Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 598-600
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129302
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129302
Page Count: 3
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Abstract

This study was designed to examine the effects of gender labeling on young children by determining the extent to which the qualities they attribute to an infant depend on whether that infant is identified as a girl or as a boy. 20 boys and 20 girls from each of 3- and 5-year-old age groups were shown a 5-min videotape of a boy and a girl infant engaged in a variety of activities. One of the infants was labeled a "boy" and the other a "girl," with the labels reversed for half of the subjects. Each child was then asked to respond to a series of 12 bipolar adjectives, 9 representing sex-stereotypic dimensions, in a forced-choice manner. The major findings indicate that both 3- and 5-year-old children responded in a significantly stereotypic manner based on the gender labels provided for the infants, regardless of the infant's actual gender. A simple concept-formation paradigm is proposed to account for these findings.

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