Preferences for Pink and Blue: The Development of Color Preferences as a Distinct Gender-Typed Behavior in Toddlers
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Many gender differences are thought to result from interactions between inborn factors and sociocognitive processes that occur after birth. There is controversy, however, over the causes of gender-typed preferences for the colors pink and blue, with some viewing these preferences as arising solely from sociocognitive processes of gender development. We evaluated preferences for gender-typed colors, and compared them to gender-typed toy and activity preferences in 126 toddlers on two occasions separated by 6–8 months (at Time 1, M = 29 months; range 20–40). Color preferences were assessed using color cards and neutral toys in gender-typed colors. Gender-typed toy and activity preferences were assessed using a parent-report questionnaire, the Preschool Activities Inventory. Color preferences were also assessed for the toddlers’ parents using color cards. A gender difference in color preferences was present between 2 and 3 years of age and strengthened near the third birthday, at which time it was large (d > 1). In contrast to their parents, toddlers’ gender-typed color preferences were stronger and unstable. Gender-typed color preferences also appeared to establish later and were less stable than gender-typed toy and activity preferences. Gender-typed color preferences were largely uncorrelated with gender-typed toy and activity preferences. These results suggest that the factors influencing gender-typed color preferences and gender-typed toy and activity preferences differ in some respects. Our findings suggest that sociocognitive influences and play with gender-typed toys that happen to be made in gender-typed colors contribute to toddlers’ gender-typed color preferences.
KeywordsGender-typing Gender development Color preferences Toy and activity preferences Sociocognitive influences
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