Young children think gender-related behavior is inborn

April 29, 2009

Young children think about gender in the same way they think about species of animals. They believe, for example, that a boy's preference for football is innate, as is a girl's preference for dolls, just as cats' behavior is innately different from dogs'.

That's the finding of a new study from researchers at Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Michigan. The study appears in the March/April 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

"These results have important implications for how children think about activities that are culturally associated with the other gender, for example, how girls think about science or math," explains Marianne Taylor, assistant professor of at Pacific Lutheran University, who led the study. "By confronting this belief directly, parents and teachers can help encourage and boys to explore a wider range of school activities."

The researchers surveyed more than 450 Americans from diverse racial-ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who were 5 years old to college age. The study's findings confirm prior research, which has shown that adults and children alike think different species have deep biological differences, for example, that innate differences cause dogs to behave differently from cats. This study also found that it's not until are at least 10 that they treat and concepts as distinct from one another, as adults do. At that age, they also understand that environment plays a role in gender-related behaviors.

Source: Society for Research in Child Development (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Elderly may face increased dementia risk after a disaster

October 24, 2016

Elderly people who were uprooted from damaged or destroyed homes and who lost touch with their neighbors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan were more likely to experience increased symptoms of dementia than those who were able ...

Research examines role of early-life stress in adult illness

October 24, 2016

Scientists have long known that chronic exposure to psychosocial stress early in life can lead to an increased vulnerability later in life to diseases linked to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, including arthritis, ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2009
The entire time I was thinking that their environment was much more influential on their behavior and activities, but it only gets a little one liner at the end.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2009
Young primates tend to select toys based on sex. The males tend to play with cars and machines and the females tend to play with dolls.

In a social system like ours, if a man says that the differences between sexes are biologically based, he would loose his job and starve. That what he needs to understand after he is 10.

The similarities in performance observed in some females in men domains and some men in women domains, are due to variability among the same sex, few women have male-like physiology and they can perform well in men tasks...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.