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Children's responses to stories with male and female characters


The sex of the main character was varied in six children's stories which were then read by fourth, sixth and eighth graders. The children answered four questions about the stories. Both boys and girls responded more positively to the questions “Would you like to be (character's name?)” and “Would you like to do the things (character's name) did?” when the main character was a male. Boys preferred stories about males, and this preference increased with grade level. A preference for stories about females was marginally significant only for the older girls. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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This research was supplied by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant IRO1MH2751 and a grant from the Research Foundation of the State of New York. The authors wish to thank Mr. James L. Franklin, superintendent; Mr. Roland Wolford and Mr. Robert C. Eldred, principals; and the staff of the Greene Central School system for their assistance and cooperation. Preliminary work which led to the formulation of the study was completed in the Vestal School system with the cooperation of Dr. Kenneth Kurtzman, Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Mr. Albert Guzzi and Mr. Michael Lutonsky, principals. Ms. Regina Ender's capable assistance in implementing this research is also appreciated.

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Connor, J.M., Serbin, L.A. Children's responses to stories with male and female characters. Sex Roles 4, 637–645 (1978).

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  • Social Psychology
  • Grade Level
  • Practical Implication
  • Eighth Grader
  • Main Character