Sex stereotyping of infants: A review of gender labeling studies

Abstract

Studies that have addressed the question of whether adults and children respond differently to male and female infants because of actual differences in the infants or because of preconceived sex stereotypes are reviewed, and the overall conclusions from these studies are evaluated. Twenty-three studies were identified in which neutrally clothed infant stimuli were labeled male in some conditions and female in other conditions. The strength and consistency of gender labeling effects on perceptions and behaviors in these studies were appraised. The results indicate that knowledge of an infant's gender is not a consistent determinant of adults' reactions, but more strongly influences young children's reactions. The implications of these findings for research on early sex role socialization are considered.

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Correspondence to Marilyn Stern.

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Stern, M., Karraker, K.H. Sex stereotyping of infants: A review of gender labeling studies. Sex Roles 20, 501–522 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288198

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Keywords

  • Young Child
  • Social Psychology
  • Role Socialization
  • Actual Difference
  • Female Infant