Study: Baby boys love dolls more than trucks

December 23, 2013 by Mark Smith, University of Western Sydney
Study: Baby boys love dolls more than trucks

(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Western Sydney shows baby boys prefer objects with faces over machines, challenging the theory of an innate preference among babies for 'girly' or 'macho' toys.

Researchers from the MARCS Institute Babylab at the University of Western Sydney gauged the preferences of four and five month old babies by showing them pictures of male and female humans and dolls, as well as cars and stoves.

Researchers then measured how long their gaze lingered on the objects, and calculated their preferences based on how long they were fixated upon each image.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, found that like baby girls, baby boys were more willing to engage with dolls than cars.

"As surprising as it may sound, although the thing to do is to buy dolls for girls and cars for boys, the science suggests boys actually prefer dolls," says the leader of the study Dr Paola Escudero, from the UWS MARCS Institute.

"Everyone loves buying dolls for baby girls and cars and trucks for baby boys, it's simply what we do."

"This common knowledge is supported by previous studies finding that 3-year-old boys prefer to play with transportation and construction toys whereas prefer to play with dolls".

"However, using state-of-the-art eye-tracking technology, we found that these gender-specific preferences are not present at five months, indicating that they are the result of physiological changes (e.g. their hormone levels), cognitive development or social pressure."

While Dr Escudero's research provides new scientific evidence for baby boys' natural connection to dolls, the debate about what causes the gender switch to be thrown in older children is still hotly contested.

"More research is needed to fill in the gap between five months and three years to determine if it's nature or nurture that triggers little boys' interest in toy cars and trucks and other stereotypically male-associated toys," she says.

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3 / 5 (4) Dec 23, 2013
How does she explains that infant male monkeys also prefer to play with trucks and machines versus dolls?
It seems that this is yet another "study" to give "evidence" of feminist claims, or better, to lessen the penis envy problem. How many educated women deal with their penis envy problem? by doing "research".
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 23, 2013
Very few 5-month old babies of either gender can relate to a truck, because they have not yet had experiences with trucks. In contrast, faces, hands and arms are common aspects of a baby's world. It is no surprise that 5-month boys would be more interested in a doll because it is something they can comprehend, and can examine for nuances. As babies get older they can understand trucks, and both girls and boys become more interested in trucks, etc. In my experience 18-month-old boys usually become much more interested, even fascinated, with big noisy machines like trucks, trains, bulldozers, fire engines, motorcycles, planes, and helicopters.
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 24, 2013
The flaw in this study is that babies don't know what trucks and cars are, so they can't be attracted to them. The know what dolls represent because they have seen people.

How can any researcher be so naive as to not think of this most basic of all possible points that could be raised, that babies aren't attracted to objects that have no meaning at all to them. Indeed, baby's vision is limited to short range so that they can not even focus on real cars and trucks.

This study seems to be an attempt to insert nurture where nature has been thoroughly demonstrated to dominate and overlooking this most fundamental error is proof of this bias.

The study shows only that babies prefer toys that represent objects familiar to them and do not prefer toys that are essentially meaningless, as one would expect...
not rated yet Dec 28, 2013
Funny, I and every kid I knew wanted guns, tanks, planes and cars, not barbie dolls.
not rated yet Dec 28, 2013
Funny, I and every kid I knew wanted guns, tanks, planes and cars, not barbie dolls.

Infinks, they're talking about infinks. Infinks don't know a truck from a train but recognize the humanoid form as something familiar.

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