Sex Roles

, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 619-633

First online:

Characteristics of Boys' and Girls' Toys

  • Judith E. Owen BlakemoreAffiliated withIndiana University–Purdue University Fort WayneDepartment of Psychology, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne Email author 
  • , Renee E. CentersAffiliated withIndiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

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In Study 1, 292 undergraduates rated 126 toys as to whether they were suitable for boys, girls, or both. From these ratings, we established five categories of toys: strongly masculine, moderately masculine, neutral, moderately feminine, and strongly feminine. Using these categories, we constructed four toysets; each consisted of 15 toys, three from each category. In Study 2, 706 undergraduates individually rated the toys from one of the toysets on 26 scales that measured the toys' characteristics. We found that girls' toys were associated with physical attractiveness, nurturance, and domestic skill, whereas boys' toys were rated as violent, competitive, exciting, and somewhat dangerous. The toys rated as most likely to be educational and to develop children's physical, cognitive, artistic, and other skills were typically rated as neutral or moderately masculine. We conclude that strongly gender-typed toys appear to be less supportive of optimal development than neutral or moderately gender-typed toys.

Key Words

toys gender masculine feminine