Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 393-398

First online:

Gender-biased Perceptions of Preschoolers’ Behavior: How Much Is Aggression and Prosocial Behavior in the Eye of the Beholder?

  • Jamie M. OstrovAffiliated withUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkDepartment of Psychology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Email author 
  • , Nicki R. CrickAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
  • , Caroline F. KeatingAffiliated withColgate University

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In this study we investigated the perceptions of male and female college students (N = 208) who evaluated preschoolers’ actual aggressive and prosocial behavior, which was obtained from naturalistic observations and presented as detailed transcripts. Findings revealed that men were not as accurate as women were in identifying relational aggression and prosocial behavior. Coders were generally similar in their identification of physical and verbal aggression. This study suggests that gender biases and stereotypes exist in the evaluation of relational aggression and prosocial behavior, which included assessments of relational inclusion. Researchers must take precautionary steps to investigate and ameliorate the gender biases of potential informants, which, if not addressed, may lead to errors in a myriad of standard methodological instruments (e.g., observations, teacher reports, and survey designs) currently used by psychologists and relationship scholars.


gender bias aggression prosocial behavior preschool children