Sex Roles

, Volume 15, Issue 9–10, pp 527–534 | Cite as

Adult perceptions of the infant as a function of gender labeling and observer gender

  • John L. Delk
  • R. Burt Madden
  • Mary Livingston
  • Timothy T. Ryan


Four hundred sixty four adults rated a videotape of the activities of a 22-month-old infant whose gender was labeled differently with different subject groups. One group was told that the infant was male, a second group was told that the infant was female, and a third group was told that the infant was hermaphrodite, i.e., appeared to have the genitals of both sexes. Some subjects rated each activity as being either masculine or feminine (forced-choice method) while other subjects rated each activity with a neutral choice also available (free-choice method). The data indicate that, for both methodological groups, labeling the infant “male” resulted in significantly more activities being rated masculine than feminine, whereas the converse was true when the infant was labeled “female.” A label of “hermaphrodite” resulted in an approximately equal ratio of activities being rated as masculine and as feminine. There were no significant interaction (Gender Label × Observer Gender) for the forced-choice group, but for the free-choice group, significant interaction between child's gender label and observer's gender was found.


Significant Interaction Social Psychology Subject Group Equal Ratio Adult Perception 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Delk
    • 1
  • R. Burt Madden
    • 2
  • Mary Livingston
    • 3
  • Timothy T. Ryan
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Arkansas for Medical SciencesUSA
  2. 2.University of Arkansas at Little RockUSA
  3. 3.Louisiana Tech UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Pennsylvania Community Mental health CenterJohnstown

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