Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 1–2, pp 83–91 | Cite as

The Effects of Commercials on Children’s Perceptions of Gender Appropriate Toy Use

  • Jennifer J. Pike
  • Nancy A. Jennings


Sixty-two first and second grade students (28 boys, 34 girls) were exposed to one of three commercial videotapes in which either all-boys (traditional condition) or all-girls (nontraditional) were playing with a toy. Participants in the control condition were exposed to nontoy commercials. After exposure to one of the conditions participants performed a toy sort where they were asked if six toys, including the two manipulated toys, were “for boys, girls, or both boys and girls.” Participants in the nontraditional condition were more likely to report that the manipulated toys were for both boys and girls than were participants in the traditional condition, who were more likely to report that the manipulated toys were for boys. This effect was stronger for boys than for girls.


commercials children gender roles 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adler, R. P., Friedlander, B. Z., Lesser, G. S., Meringoff, L., Robertson, T. S., Rossiter, J. R. et al. (1977). Research on the effects of television advertising on children. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 121–154). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 3–11.Google Scholar
  5. Barcus, F. E. (1980). The nature of television advertising to children. In E. L. Palmer & A. Dorr (Eds.), Children and the faces of television: Teaching, violence, and selling (pp. 273–285). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bem, S. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88, 352–364.Google Scholar
  7. Boldizar, J. P. (1991). Assessing sex typing and androgyny in children: The Children’s Sex Role Inventory. Developmental Psychology, 27, 505–515.Google Scholar
  8. Fagot, B. I. (1977). Consequences of moderate cross-gender behavior in preschool children. Child Development, 48, 902–907.Google Scholar
  9. Fagot, B. L, & Hagan, R. (1991). Observations of parent reactions to sex-stereotyped behaviors: Age and sex differences. Child Development, 62, 617–628.Google Scholar
  10. Geis, F. L., Brown, V., Jennings, J., & Porter, N. (1984). TV commercials as achievement scripts for women. Sex Roles, 10, 513–525.Google Scholar
  11. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., Signorelli, N., & Shanahan, J. (2002). Growing up with television: Cultivation processes. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 43–68). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Jennings, N. A., & Wartella, E. A. (in preparation). Advertising and consumer development. In N. Pecora, J. P. Murray, & E. Wartella (Eds.), Children and television: 50 Years of research. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Johnson, F. L., & Young, K. (2002). Gendered voices in children’s television advertising. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19, 461–480.Google Scholar
  14. Klinger, L. J., Hamilton, J. A., & Cantrell, P. J. (2001). Children’s perceptions of aggressive and gender-specific content in toy commercials. Social Behavior and Personality, 29, 11–20.Google Scholar
  15. Kunkel, D. (2001). Children and television advertising. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 375–394). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Larson, M. S. (2001). Interactions, activities and gender in children’s television commercials: A content analysis. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 45(1), 41–56.Google Scholar
  17. Macklin, M. C., & Kolbe, R. H. (1984). Sex role stereotyping in children’s advertising: Current and past trends. Journal of Advertising, 13(2), 34–42.Google Scholar
  18. Martin, C. L., & Halverson, C. F. (1981). A schematic processing model of sex-typing. Child Development, 52, 1119–1134.Google Scholar
  19. Mayes, S. L., & Valentine, K. B. (1979). Sex role stereotyping in Saturday morning cartoon shows. Journal of Broadcasting, 23(1), 41–50.Google Scholar
  20. Morgan, M. (1987). Television, sex-role attitudes, and sex role behavior. Journal of Early Adolescence, 7, 269–282.Google Scholar
  21. Morgan, M., & Rothschild, N. (1983). Impact of the new television technology: Cable TV, peers, and sex-role cultivation in the electronic environment. Youth and Society, 15(1), 33-50.Google Scholar
  22. Pingree, S. (1978). The effects of nonsexist television commercial and perceptions of reality on children’s attitudes about women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2, 262–277.Google Scholar
  23. Raag, T., & Rackliff, C. L. (1998). Preschoolers– awareness of social expectations of gender: Relationships to toy choice. Sex Roles, 38, 685–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U. G., Rideout, V. J., & Brodie, M. (1999). Kids and media at the new millenium. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation. [Available at].Google Scholar
  25. Signorielli, N. (2001). Television’s gender role images and contribution to stereotyping: Past, present, future. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 341–358). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Smith, L. J. (1994). A content analysis of gender differences in children’s advertising. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 38, 323–333.Google Scholar
  27. Welch, R. L., Huston-Stein, A., Wright, J. C., & Plehal, R. (1979). Subtle sex-role cues in children’s commercials. Journal of Communication, 29, 202–209.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of Michigan
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnati
  3. 3.Department of CommunicationUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnati

Personalised recommendations