Sex Roles

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 1-14

First online:

Here's Looking at You, Kid! A Longitudinal Study of Perceived Gender Differences in Mutual Gaze Behavior in Young Infants

  • Rebecca T. LeebAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention Email author 
  • , F. Gillian RejskindAffiliated withMcGill University

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The purpose of this study was to examine the origins of gender differences in mutual gaze between infants and unfamiliar adults, using a prospective longitudinal design. Infant gaze behavior was measured twice: 13–112-hr and 13–18-weeks postpartum. Gender differences were found at Visit 2 due to an increase in girls' gaze behavior. Girls also made more eye contact in female–female dyads and in the second interaction over the first. Boys' behavior remained unchanged over time. The data provide evidence for gender differences in mutual gaze in a younger sample and wider context than previously demonstrated. Results are discussed in the context of social learning (i.e., Martin & Fabes, 2001, theory of “singular polarization”) and psychobiological theories of gender development.

gender differences infant development eye contact gender development