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Letters to santa claus: Elementary school-age children's sex-typed toy preferences in a natural setting

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Sex-typed toy preferences were assessed in a nonrestrictive, ecologically valid manner. Letters to Santa Claus requesting Christmas presents, written by 154 elementary school-age children, were analyzed for number and sex-stereotypy of toys requested. Girls requested more toys than boys and children more often requested nonsex-typed (neutral) than sex-typed toys. Girls were especially likely to request neutral toys, while boys were equally likely to request neutral or masculine-typed toys. However, children preferred sex-appropriate to sex-inappropriate toys. The results support efforts to investigate both neutral and sex-typed toy preferences in natural contexts.

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The author gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the teachers and children in the participating schools as well as the assistance of the coders. The helpful suggestions of Steven A. Engleson, Judith H. Langlois, Deidre Hiney-Langseth, and Patricia J. Walz on earlier drafts of the manuscript are also appreciated.

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Downs, A.C. Letters to santa claus: Elementary school-age children's sex-typed toy preferences in a natural setting. Sex Roles 9, 159–163 (1983).

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