Two studies on early gender stereotyping based on a concept-learning approach were conducted. With the use of a forced choice format, study 1 found that both 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-year-old children showed significant and equal stereotyping of both gender-labeled infants and animals. These findings suggest both early learning and generalization of gender stereotypes. In study 2, although 5-year-olds stereotyped more strongly than 3-year-olds, both groups stereotyped others significantly more than themselves. When attributing traits to themselves, children chose the more socially desirable rather than the gender-traditional attributes. These findings are discussed in terms of the acquisition of gender stereotypes as a process distinct from the necessity for related self-schemas.
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The authors would like to express their appreciation to Pam Newman, Laurie MacGavin, Rebeccah Warren, Sheryl Wilson, Gail McCollum, and Cheryl Hessen for their invaluable assistance in running subjects for these studies.
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Cowan, G., Hoffman, C.D. Gender stereotyping in young children: Evidence to support a concept-learning approach. Sex Roles 14, 211–224 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288250