Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 5–6, pp 393–398

Gender-biased Perceptions of Preschoolers’ Behavior: How Much Is Aggression and Prosocial Behavior in the Eye of the Beholder?

  • Jamie M. Ostrov
  • Nicki R. Crick
  • Caroline F. Keating
Article

Abstract

In this study we investigated the perceptions of male and female college students (N = 208) who evaluated preschoolers’ actual aggressive and prosocial behavior, which was obtained from naturalistic observations and presented as detailed transcripts. Findings revealed that men were not as accurate as women were in identifying relational aggression and prosocial behavior. Coders were generally similar in their identification of physical and verbal aggression. This study suggests that gender biases and stereotypes exist in the evaluation of relational aggression and prosocial behavior, which included assessments of relational inclusion. Researchers must take precautionary steps to investigate and ameliorate the gender biases of potential informants, which, if not addressed, may lead to errors in a myriad of standard methodological instruments (e.g., observations, teacher reports, and survey designs) currently used by psychologists and relationship scholars.

Keywords

gender bias aggression prosocial behavior preschool children 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arsenio, W. F., & Lover, A. (1997). Emotions, conflicts, and aggression during preschoolers’ free play. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15, 531–542.Google Scholar
  2. Berndt, T., & Heller, K. A. (1986). Gender stereotypes and social inferences: A developmental study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 889–898.Google Scholar
  3. Bonica, C., Yeshova, K., Arnold, D. H., Fisher, P. H., & Zeljo, A. (2003). Relational aggression and language development in preschoolers. Social Development, 12, 551–561.Google Scholar
  4. Coie, J. D., & Dodge, K. A. (1998). Aggression and antisocial behavior. In N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.) & W. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 779–862). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  5. Condry, J. C., & Ross, D. F. (1985). Sex and aggression: The influence of gender label on the perception of aggression in children. Child Development, 56, 225–233.Google Scholar
  6. Crick, N. R., Bigbee, M., & Howes, C. (1996). Gender differences in children’s normative beliefs about aggression: How do I hurt thee? Let me count the ways. Child Development, 67, 1003–1014.Google Scholar
  7. Crick, N. R., Casas, J. F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579–588.Google Scholar
  8. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710–722.Google Scholar
  9. Crick, N. R., Ostrov, J. M., Appleyard, K., Jansen, E. A., & Casas, J. F. (2004). Relational aggression in early childhood: “You can’t come to my birthday party unless...” In M. Putallaz & K. L. Bierman (Eds.), Aggression, antisocial behavior, and violence among girls: A developmental perspective (pp. 71–89). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Crick, N. R., Werner, N. E., Casas, J. F., O’Brien, K. M., Nelson, D. A., Grotpeter, J. K., et al. (1999). Childhood aggression and gender: A new look at an old problem. In D. Bernstein (Ed.), The Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 45, pp. 75–141). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  11. Fagot, B. T., & Hagan, R. (1985). Aggression in toddlers: Responses to the assertive acts of boys and girls. Sex Roles, 12, 341–351.Google Scholar
  12. Gallivan, J. (1991). Gender bias in students’ ratings of essays. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 119–124.Google Scholar
  13. Greener, S., & Crick, N. R. (1999). Children’s normative beliefs about prosocial behavior: What does it mean to be nice? Social Development, 8, 349–363.Google Scholar
  14. Gurwtiz, S. B., & Dodge, K. A. (1975). Adults’ evaluations of a child as a function of sex of adult and sex of child. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 822–828.Google Scholar
  15. Hart, C. H., Nelson, D. A., Robinson, C. C., Olsen, S. F., & McNeilly-Choque, M. K. (1998). Overt and relational aggression in Russian nursery-school-age children: Parenting style and marital linkages. Developmental Psychology, 34, 687–697.Google Scholar
  16. Kirch, J. (1999). Gender bias in the interpretation of ambiguous provocation situations. Social Behavior and Personality, 27, 375–378.Google Scholar
  17. Laursen, B., & Hartup, W. W. (1989). The dynamics of preschool children’s conflicts. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 35, 281–297.Google Scholar
  18. Lyons, J. A., & Serbin, L. A. (1986). Observer bias in scoring boys’ and girls’ aggression. Sex Roles, 14, 301–313.Google Scholar
  19. Maccoby, E. E. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  20. McNeilly-Choque, M. K., Hart, C. H., Robinson, C. C., Nelson, L., & Olsen, S. F. (1996). Overt and relational aggression on the playground: Correspondence among different informants. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 11, 47–67.Google Scholar
  21. Ostrov, J. M., & Keating, C. F. (2004). Gender differences in preschool aggression during free play and structured interactions: An observational study. Social Development, 13, 255–277.Google Scholar
  22. Ostrov, J. M., Woods, K. E., Jansen, E. A., Casas, J. F., & Crick, N. R. (2004). An observational study of delivered and received aggression, gender, and social psychological adjustment in preschool: “This white crayon doesn’t work...” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 355–371.Google Scholar
  23. Pellegrini, A. D. (1996). Observing children in their natural worlds: A methodological primer. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  24. Russell, A., Hart, C. H., Robinson, C., & Olsen, S. F. (2003). Children’s sociable and aggressive behavior with peers: A comparison of the U.S. and Australia, and contributions of temperament and parenting styles. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27, 74–86.Google Scholar
  25. Sebanc, A. M. (2003). The friendship features of preschool children: Links with prosocial behavior and aggression. Social Development, 12, 249–268.Google Scholar
  26. Super, C., & Harkness, S. (1986). The developmental niche. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9, 545–569.Google Scholar
  27. Susser, S. A., & Keating, C. F. (1990). Adult sex role orientation and perceptions of aggressive interactions between boys and girls. Sex Roles, 23, 147–155.Google Scholar
  28. Tomada, G., & Schneider, B. H. (1997). Relational aggression, gender, and peer acceptance: Invariance across culture, stability over time, and concordance among informants.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie M. Ostrov
    • 1
    • 4
  • Nicki R. Crick
    • 2
  • Caroline F. Keating
    • 3
  1. 1.University at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffalo
  2. 2.University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
  3. 3.Colgate UniversityHamilton, New York
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffalo, New York

Personalised recommendations