Effects of Gender Color-Coding on Toddlers’ Gender-Typical Toy Play
- 5.2k Downloads
Gender color-coding of children’s toys may make certain toys more appealing or less appealing to a given gender. We observed toddlers playing with two gender-typical toys (a train, a doll), once in gender-typical colors and once in gender-atypical colors. Assessments occurred twice, at 20–40 months of age and at 26–47 months of age. A Sex × Time × Toy × Color ANOVA showed expected interactions between Sex and Toy and Sex and Color. Boys played more with the train than girls did and girls played more with the doll and with pink toys than boys did. The Sex × Toy × Color interaction was not significant, but, at both time points, boys and girls combined played more with the gender-atypical toy when its color was typical for their sex than when it was not. This effect appeared to be caused largely by boys’ preference for, or avoidance of, the doll and by the use of pink. Also, at both time points, gender differences in toy preferences were larger in the gender-typical than in the gender-atypical color condition. At Time 2, these gender differences were present only in the gender-typical color condition. Overall, the results suggest that, once acquired, gender-typical color preferences begin to influence toy preferences, especially those for gender-atypical toys and particularly in boys. They thus could enlarge differences between boys’ and girls’ toy preferences. Because boys’ and girls’ toys elicit different activities, removing the gender color-coding of toys could encourage more equal learning opportunities.
KeywordsGender stereotyping Sex-typing Gender differences Toy preferences Color preferences
This research was supported by the Gates Cambridge Trust. Data were presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research in Lisbon, Portugal. We would like to thank the parents, children, children’s centers and nurseries who contributed data to the research, and Mihaela Constantinescu who helped with data coding.
- Berenbaum, S. A., & Hines, M. (1992). Early androgens are related to childhood sex- stereotyped toy preferences. Psychological Science, 3, 203–206.Google Scholar
- Cabin, R. J., & Mitchell, R. J. (2000). To Bonferroni or not to Bonferroni: When and how are the questions. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 81, 246–248.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Eliot, L. (2009). Pink brain, blue brain: How small differences grow into troublesome gaps—and what we can do about it. Oxford: Oneworld.Google Scholar
- Fagot, B. I. (1983). Interactive behavior code. Unpublished instrument.Google Scholar
- Fine, C. (2010). Delusions of gender. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Halim, M. L., Ruble, D. N., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Zosuls, K. M., Lyrye, L. E., & Greulich, F. K. (2014). Pink frilly dresses and the avoidance of all things “girly”: Children’s appearance rigidity and cognitive theories of gender development. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1091–1101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jenkins, J. (Producer). (2011). Fighting the power of pink [Radio broadcast]. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010y39d.
- Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Orenstein, P. (2011). Cinderella ate my daughter. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
- Paoletti, J. B. (2012). Pink and blue: Telling the boys from the girls in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Paul, A. M. (2011). Is pink necessary? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/books/review/Paul-t.html.
- Ruble, D. N., Lurye, L. E., & Zosuls, K. M. (2010). Pink frilly dresses and early gender identity. Princeton Report on Knowledge, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/prok/issues/2-2/pink_frilly.xml.
- Serbin, L. A., Poulin-Dubois, D., Colburne, K. A., Sen, M. G., & Eichstedt, J. A. (2001). Gender stereotyping in infancy: Visual preferences for and knowledge of gender-stereotyped toys in the second year. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25, 7–15.Google Scholar
- Sprafkin, C., Serbin, L. A., Denier, C., & Connor, J. M. (1983). Sex-differentiated play: Cognitive consequences and early interventions. In M. B. Liss (Ed.), Social and cognitive skills: Sex roles and child’s play (pp. 167–192). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Vander Stoep, S. W., & Johnson, D. D. (2009). Research methods for everyday life: Blending qualitative and quantitative approaches. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar