Differential effects of an adult observer's presence on sex-typed play behavior: A comparison between gender-schematic and gender-aschematic preschool children

Pamela Wilansky-Traynor*, Thalma E. Lobel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study examined the differential effect of an adult observer's presence on the sex-typed play behavior of gender schematic and aschematic preschoolers. A total of 116 Israeli preschoolers (M age = 64.9 months) participated in the study. Children were classified as either gender schematic or aschematic based upon responses to a computerized measure of different sex stereotype components. Children's play behavior with gender typical and atypical, attractive and unattractive, toys was videotaped. An observer was present for half the children's play and absent for the other half's play. Observation status affected the aschematic, but not the schematic, children's play with gender typical toys. For example, observed aschematic boys spent a greater percent of time playing with the unattractive masculine toys compared to unobserved aschematic boys. This difference was not apparent for schematic boys. Additionally, a difference found for schematic boys was not apparent in schematic girls, i.e., when unobserved, schematic boys tended to spend a greater percent of time playing with the unattractive masculine toy than aschematic boys. Further, some differences were found for unattractive, and not attractive, toys. For instance, observed aschematic boys spent a greater percent of time playing with the unattractive masculine toy than did the unobserved aschematic boys. This gap was not found for the attractive masculine toy. Results are discussed with reference to the accessibility and complexity of gender schemas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-557
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Children
  • Gender role
  • Gender schematicity
  • Toy preferences

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