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Journal Article

Differential Reactions to Assertive and Communicative Acts of Toddler Boys and Girls

Beverly I. Fagot, Richard Hagan, Mary Driver Leinbach and Sandra Kronsberg
Child Development
Vol. 56, No. 6 (Dec., 1985), pp. 1499-1505
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130468
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130468
Page Count: 7
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Differential Reactions to Assertive and Communicative Acts of Toddler Boys and Girls
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Abstract

34 children were observed in infant play groups. 2 sets of infant behaviors were coded: assertive acts and attempts to communicate with adults. No sex differences were observed at 13 to 14 months in any of these behaviors. However, adults attended to girls' assertive behaviors far less of the time than to boys' assertive behaviors. They attended more to girls' less intense communication attempts and to boys' more intense attempts. When 29 of the same children were observed in toddler play groups no more than 11 months later, there were sex differences in behavior. Boys were more assertive; girls talked to teachers more. Teachers no longer differentiated their responses to boys and girls. Peers reacted more to boys' assertive behavior than to girls.' We hypothesized that caregivers may use stereotypes to guide their reactions to infants because infant behavior is ambiguous. For the toddlers, behavior had become more defined, and caregivers reacted to the behaviors. By using the sex stereotype to guide their reactions to younger children, the caregivers may have perpetuated the stereotype.

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