Children’s reasoning about gender-atypical preferences in different settings

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Two age groups of children, 5- and 6-year-olds (n  =  30) and 8- and 9- year-olds (n  =  26), made judgments about which of two items a character should choose :  a gender-typical item or a gender-atypical item that was preferred by the character. Judgments were made about situations where the character was (a) in a familiar public setting and (b) in a country where the reversed preference was typical for that culture. At both ages and in both settings, a majority of responses endorsed the character’s atypical preference. However, at both ages, endorsements of the atypical preferences were significantly less frequent in the familiar public setting that in the norm-reversed setting, and justifications indicated that there would be social consequences for defying gender norms in the familiar setting.

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115
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Clare Conry-Murray
Associate Professor of Psychology

My research interests include social development, including moral development, gender development and culture.