Gender‐based reasoning about novel toys: The role of child and parental factors

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    Much has been established about children's preference for gender‐typed toys, but far less is known about their reasoning about novel toys. Using such toys, this study explored children's emerging use of gender to make predictions about peers as a form of stereotype construction with its correlates. Two to 4‐year‐olds were shown novel, nonstereotyped toys and asked if they and others would like each item. Gender‐typing was measured by liking for familiar gender‐typed toys, and categorization skills by sorting. Parents completed measures on gender language and behavioural expectations. It was found that gender‐centric reasoning (what children like, they expect same‐gender peers but not other‐gender peers to like) was apparent from age 3 years, with boys showing a higher tendency. Apart from age in months, categorization skills and parental behavioural expectations uniquely contributed to children's degree of gender‐centrism. The findings are discussed in relation to cognitive development, parental gender socialization, stereotype formation and practical implications. Highlights: From age 3, children tend to predict peers' liking for novel, nonstereotyped toys based on their own and peers' gender as a form of stereotype construction. Older boys are more likely to differentiate between their own novel toy‐liking and that of outgroup peers (girls) compared to girls. Children's categorization skills and their parents' behavioural expectations contribute to gender‐based reasoning, giving scope for interventions based on modifiable factors.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInfant and Child Development
    Early online date20 Apr 2023
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2023


    • behavioural expectations
    • categorization skills
    • gender
    • parents
    • stereotyping
    • toys

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