Sex Roles

, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 505-517

First online:

Preschool Children's Collaborative Problem-Solving Interactions: The Role of Gender, Pair Type, and Task

  • Heather A. Holmes-LonerganAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Metropolitan State College of Denver Email author 

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The purpose of this study was to investigate gender differences in problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills in preschool children. Children between 4 and 5 years of age completed 3 problem-solving tasks with either a same-sex or a different-sex peer. Children's verbal and nonverbal interactions were analyzed. Girls used mitigation more often than did boys. Mixed-sex dyads engaged in controlling verbal interactions more often than same-sex dyads. There were relationships between verbal and nonverbal behaviors and task success; these relationships also differed across pair types. The results of the study demonstrate that the gender differences in types of verbal interactions previously observed in preschool children's free play are also present in their problem-solving interactions and that children are able to alter the types of behaviors they use depending upon both partner gender and the type of task involved.

gender differences collaboration problem solving