, Volume 58, Issue 5-6, pp 358-370
Date: 06 Oct 2007

Children’s Gender–Emotion Stereotypes in the Relationship of Anger to Sadness and Fear

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Children’s perceptions of the emotional reactions of same- and different-sex characters in stories containing ambiguous and unambiguous emotional contexts were examined. According to the Parallel-Constraint-Satisfaction Theory (Kunda and Thagard. Psychological Review, 103, 284–308, 1996), stereotypes are more likely to be utilized in ambiguous contexts, defined here as those likely to elicit multiple emotional responses. Seventy suburban U.S. preschoolers were read vignettes describing boys or girls in ambiguous or unambiguous emotion-inducing events and reported how the vignette characters were feeling. Results suggest that the perceptions of participants were more likely to reflect gender–emotion stereotypes (e.g. perceiving males as angry and females as sad) in ambiguous contexts than in unambiguous contexts. Results are discussed in terms of children’s emerging understanding of gender–emotion stereotypes.