Sex-differentiated behaviors in nonsexist picture books
- Cite this article as:
- Davis, A.J. Sex Roles (1984) 11: 1. doi:10.1007/BF00287435
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Charges of behavioral and sex-role stereotyping in preschool picture books have led to the publication of books that purportedly avoid or challenge traditional sex stereotypes (i.e., positive image or nonsexist picture books). This study sought to identify behaviors (as distinguished from sex-typed activities or social roles) exhibited by female and male characters in nonsexist books, and to compare these portrayals with those presented in more conventional picture books (Caldecott award-winners and contemporary best-sellers). A reliable coding system (interrater reliability exceeding 90%), permitting the identification of 15 target behaviors in the text and illustrations of picture books was developed and employed in the content analysis of 50 nonsexist and 46 conventional picture books. Stepwise discriminant function and chi-square analyses revealed highly independent females and nurturant and nonaggressive males in nonsexist books—portrayals that represent a clear departure from traditional sex stereotypes in this society. On the other hand, females in nonsexist books were more nurturant, emotional, and less physically active than males in either nonsexist or conventional books. Finally, with the single exception of aggressive behavior (males exceeding females), there was no indication of behavioral sex-typing in the conventional books. Implications are discussed.