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 psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, who led the study. "By confronting this belief directly, parents and teachers can help encourage girls 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 children are at least 10 that they treat gender and species concepts as distinct from one another, as adults do. At that age, they also understand that environment plays a role in gender-related behaviors.
-end-
The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Society for Research in Child Development

Related Behavior Articles from Brightsurf:

Variety in the migratory behavior of blackcaps
The birds have variable migration strategies.

Fishing for a theory of emergent behavior
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba quantified the collective action of small schools of fish using information theory.

How synaptic changes translate to behavior changes
Learning changes behavior by altering many connections between brain cells in a variety of ways all at the same time, according to a study of sea slugs recently published in JNeurosci.

I won't have what he's having: The brain and socially motivated behavior
Monkeys devalue rewards when they anticipate that another monkey will get them instead.

Unlocking animal behavior through motion
Using physics to study different types of animal motion, such as burrowing worms or flying flocks, can reveal how animals behave in different settings.

AI to help monitor behavior
Algorithms based on artificial intelligence do better at supporting educational and clinical decision-making, according to a new study.

Increasing opportunities for sustainable behavior
To mitigate climate change and safeguard ecosystems, we need to make drastic changes in our consumption and transport behaviors.

Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new way to predict a protein's interactions with other proteins and biomolecules, and its biochemical activity, merely by observing its surface.

Spirituality affects the behavior of mortgagers
According to Olga Miroshnichenko, a Sc.D in Economics, and a Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance, Tyumen State University, morals affect the thinking of mortgage payers and help them avoid past due payments.

Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis
One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Read More: Behavior News and Behavior Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.