Sex Roles

, Volume 27, Issue 7–8, pp 377–390

Preschoolers' beliefs about sex and age differences in emotionality

  • Mariss Karbon
  • Richard A. Fabes
  • Gustavo Carlo
  • Carol Lynn Martin
Article

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to assess preschoolers' beliefs about the frequency and intensity with which boys, girls, women, and men experience anger, sadness, and happiness. Sixty-seven middle-class preschool children (35 girls, 32 boys) were presented with drawings of adult and child figures of each sex, and were asked to rate how frequently and intensely the emotions were felt (91% of the children were white; the remainder were primarily black). Children's gender stereotyped beliefs were particularly strong for sadness and appeared to be based on a deficit-experience model for males. Sex of target differences also were found for children's beliefs about anger (favoring males). However, the sex difference in anger was based more on the degree to which anger is believed to be experienced rather than on differences in beliefs regarding males' and females' capacity to experience anger. Age of target differences were also found for sadness and anger, but not for happiness. It was concluded that preschoolers' beliefs about differences in emotions are complex, and vary as a function of the sex and age of the target person, and as a function of the specific emotion.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, J. G., & Haccoun, D. M. (1976). Sex differences in emotionality: A multidimensional approach. Human Relations, 29, 711–720.Google Scholar
  2. Averill, J. R. (1982). Anger and aggression. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Birnbaum, D. W., & Chemelski, B. E. (1984). Preschoolers' inferences about gender and emotion: The mediation of emotionality stereotypes. Sex Roles, 10, 505–511.Google Scholar
  4. Birnbaum, D. W., Nosanchuk, T. A., & Cross, W. L. (1980). Children's stereotypes about sex differences in emotionality. Sex Roles, 6, 435–443.Google Scholar
  5. Brody, L. R. (1984). Sex and age variations in the quality and intensity of children's emotional attributions to hypothetical situations. Sex Roles, 11, 51–59.Google Scholar
  6. Cochran, W. G. (1950). The comparison of percentages in matched samples. Biometrika, 37, 256–266.Google Scholar
  7. Condry, J., & Condry, S. (1976). Sex differences: A study of the eye of the beholder. Child Development, 47, 812–819.Google Scholar
  8. Covell, K., & Abramovitch, R. (1987). Understanding emotion in the family: Children's and parents' attributions of happiness, sadness, and anger. Child Development, 58, 985–991.Google Scholar
  9. Cramer, P. (1983). Children's use of defense mechanisms in reaction to displeasure caused by others. Journal of Personality, 51, 78–94.Google Scholar
  10. Daniels-Beirness, T. (1988). Measuring peer status in boys and girls: A problem of apples and oranges. In B. H. Schneider, G. Attili, J. Nadel, & R. P. Weissberg (Eds.), Social competence in developmental perspective. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Eisenberg, N. (1986). Altruistic emotion, cognition, and behavior. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Eisenberg, N., Cialdini, R. B., McCreath, H., & Shell, R. (1989). Consistency based compliance in children: When and why do consistency procedures have immediate effects? International Journal of Behavioural Development, 12, 361–367.Google Scholar
  13. Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Miller, P. A., Shell, R., Shea, C., & May-Plumlee, T. (1990). Preschoolers' vicarious emotional responding and their situational and dispositional prosocial behavior. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 36, 507–529.Google Scholar
  14. Fabes, R. A., & Martin, C. L. (1991). Gender and age stereotypes of emotionality. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 532–540.Google Scholar
  15. Fabes, R. A., Eisenberg, N., McCormick, S. E., & Wilson, M. S. (1988). Preschoolers' attributions of the situational determinants of others' naturally occurring emotions. Developmental Psychology, 24, 376–385.Google Scholar
  16. Glasberg, R., & Aboud, F. (1982). Keeping one's distance from sadness: Children's self-reports of emotional experience. Developmental Psychology, 18, 287–293.Google Scholar
  17. Gnepp, J. (1983). Children's social sensitivity: Inferring emotions from conflicting cues. Developmental Psychology, 19, 805–814.Google Scholar
  18. Harris, P. L., Olthof, T., & Terwogt, M. M. (1981). Children's knowledge of emotion. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 22, 247–261.Google Scholar
  19. Haugh, S. S., Hoffman, C. D., & Cowan, G. (1980). The eye of the very young beholder: Sex typing infants by young children. Child Development, 51, 598–600.Google Scholar
  20. Hoffner, C., & Badzinski, D. M. (1989). Children's integration of facial and situational cues to emotion. Child Development, 60, 411–422.Google Scholar
  21. Lamb, M. E., Easterbrooks, M. A., & Holden, G. W. (1980). Reinforcement and punishment among preschoolers: Characteristics, effects, and correlates. Child Development, 51, 1230–1236.Google Scholar
  22. Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1975). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Martin, C. L. (1992). The role of cognition in understanding gender effects. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 23, 113–149.Google Scholar
  24. Strayer, J. (1980). A naturalistic study of empathic behaviors and their relation to affective states and perspective-taking skills in preschool children. Child Development, 51, 815–822.Google Scholar
  25. Zucker, K. J., Wilson, D. N., & Stern, A. (April, 1985). Children's appraisals of sex-typed behavior in their peers. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariss Karbon
    • 1
  • Richard A. Fabes
    • 1
  • Gustavo Carlo
    • 1
  • Carol Lynn Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family Resources and Human DevelopmentArizona State UniversityTempe

Personalised recommendations