Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 1–2, pp 90–102 | Cite as

Peer Processes and Gender Role Development: Changes in Gender Atypicality Related to Negative Peer Treatment and Children’s Friendships

  • Elizabeth A. Ewing Lee
  • Wendy Troop-Gordon
Original Article


Peer socialization has been proposed to elicit gender norm adherence through: a) rebuke for exhibiting gender nonnormative characteristics and b) engagement in same-sex interactions. However, there is little evidence supporting these assumptions. Accordingly, the current study examined the unique and interactive contributions of negative peer treatment and same-sex and cross-sex friendships to gender conformity over one school year. Children from the upper-Midwest of the USA (196 girls; 170 boys; M age  = 9.34 years) participated. Data included peer-ratings of harassment, friendship nominations, and teacher-ratings of gender atypicality. Peer harassment predicted decreased gender atypicality for children with many male friends and increased gender atypicality for boys with many female friends and few male friends. Implications for theories of gender development are discussed.


Gender socialization Gender atypicality Peer relationships Cross-sex friendship Same-sex friendship 



This article was based on a master’s thesis by Elizabeth Ewing Lee completed at North Dakota State University. We are grateful for the feedback and comments provided by Joel Hektner, Amber Köblitz, Stephane Rainville, and Michael Robinson. We also would like to thank the children, parents, and teachers who participated in this study and all of the members of the NDSU Youth Development Study staff for their assistance.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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