, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 251-260

The sex-typing of adult and child behavior in toy sales

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In order to investigate sex-stereotyping pressure in toy sales, a field experiment was conducted in which students approached 134 sales persons in 67 retail outlets, asking for help in selecting a toy for a niece or nephew, age 5. The results indicated that toy sales advice serves primarily to reinforce traditional sex-role expectations. Overall, salespersons gave more sex-stereotyped than neutral responses, and their responses did not vary by retail setting (specialized vs. department/chain stores) or the age of the salesperson. As expected, more stereotyped responses were received by male than by female buyers, especially when both sought suggestions for a male child. The results were consistent with the hypothesis that salespersons hold stereotyped conceptions of adult socialization practices and channel interaction in ways that behaviorally confirm these stereotypes. A number of other findings are presented and discussed.