, Volume 16, Issue 9-10, pp 473-487

Qualitative differences among gender-stereotyped toys: Implications for cognitive and social development in girls and boys

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Abstract

Although it has been suggested that the early play experiences of girls and boys may contribute to gender differences in cognitive and social development, empirical support for this hypothesis is limited. This paper reports the development of a system of toy classification and may permit a more programmatic investigation of this problem. One hundred adult subjects rated 50 children's toys on 12 “functional” dimensions. Results showed that these toys could be reliably described according to multidimensional similarities and that toys considered appropriate for girls differed in many ways from those considered appropriate for boys. Thus this system may allow us to test more systematically the hypothetical relationship between sex-typed toy play and the development of differential cognitive and/or social skills in girls and boys.

The author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Teresita Borja-Alvarez, Jacqueline Milne, and Susie Goodman at all stages of this project. Much of this work was conducted at The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.