Gender Labels and Play Styles: Their Relative Contribution to Children's Selection of Playmates
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The relative contribution of gender labels and play styles (masculine or feminine) in playmate selection was evaluated in 60 children between the ages of 4 and 8 years using a novel interview measure. In the interview, when targets' gender labels and targets' play styles were presented as independent dimensions, children showed predicted sex differences in preferences for gender labels and for play styles (including toys, rough-and-tumble play, and activity level). However, when targets' gender labels and targets' play styles were presented as competing dimensions, boys of all ages chose female targets with masculine play styles over male targets with feminine play styles. In contrast, younger girls (4-5-year-olds) chose female targets with masculine play styles, whereas older girls (6-8-year-olds) chose male targets with feminine play styles. This suggests possible sex differences in the contribution of gender labels and of play styles in the development of children's preferences for same-sexed playmates.
author list (cited authors)
Alexander, G. M., & Hines, M.