Sex-typed play in feminoid boys versus normal boys and girls

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Procedures for assessing children's sex-typed play were developed which (a) examined children's continuous play in four sessions totaling 20 minutes rather than measuring only initial choice of a sex-typed toy, and (b) did not impose the stimulus-specific condition of requiring an adult experimenter to be present to administer the task. Play with “masculine” and “feminine” toys was observed for 120 normal children (60 boys, 60 girls) aged 3 yr.–8 yr., and 15 similarly aged boys diagnosed as having childhood gender disturbance. Significant differences were found in the sex-typed play of the two normal groups, but no age differences were observed. The amount of feminine play by the feminoid boys was found to be significantly greater than that of normal boys, but not significantly different from the predominantly feminine play patterns of the normal girls. The usefulness of such a measure for the clinical assessment of deviant sexrole development in young children is discussed.

This study was supported by United States Public Health Service Research Grant #MH 21803-01A1, 02, 03 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The University Elementary School at UCLA is gratefully acknowledged for providing a normal subject population and laboratory facilities. The authors express their appreciation to Stanley Conrad, Roni Greenberg, Alfred Lauck, Benson Low, and Martin Magy for their assistance in data collection.