Advertisement

Sex Roles

pp 1–10 | Cite as

Boys Just Don’t! Gender Stereotyping and Sanctioning of Counter-Stereotypical Behavior in Preschoolers

  • Milica M. Skočajić
  • Jovan G. Radosavljević
  • Milica G. Okičić
  • Ivana O. Janković
  • Iris L. ŽeželjEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Although children start to adopt gender stereotypes by the age of three, there is less evidence about how early they start to sanction other children’s counter-stereotypical behaviors. The present study explored the two processes in a single design, comparing younger/older preschool boys and girls and using a two-task procedure involving (a) categorization of pictures of masculine/feminine colors, toys, and objects as more suited for boys/girls or both and (b) descriptions and evaluations of boys/girls playing with gender counter-stereotypic toys. One hundred Serbian children aged 3–4 or 6–7 years-old, balanced by gender, were individually interviewed. Although all three sets of stimuli were stereotyped, toys were stereotyped more often than colors and objects. Overall stereotyping, as well as stereotyping of colors and toys, was more frequent in the older group. Gender differences were more complex, showing some gender x age interactions wherein boys stereotyped masculine stimuli more often than girls did; the older boys, but not the other groups, sanctioned counter stereotypical behavior more often than accepted it; and boys’ behaviors were sanctioned more often than girls’. Finally, stereotyping and sanctioning were strongly positively related. Our study shows that, at early preschool ages, children are not only aware of gender norms, but also ready to sanction peers violating them. Boys seem to be more likely to stereotype, particularly the masculine stimuli, and be sanctioned for not conforming to stereotypes. The findings can help educators and media identify groups that need to be empowered to explore behaviors beyond gender-prescribed roles.

Keywords

Gender role Gender-stereotypes Counter-stereotypical Sanctions Preschool Child development 

Notes

Supplementary material

11199_2019_1051_MOESM1_ESM.docx (577 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 576 kb)

References

  1. Aboud, F. E., & Amato, M. (2003). Developmental and socialization influences on intergroup Bias. In R. Brown & S. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intergroup processes (pp. 65–88). Malden, MA: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auster, C. J., & Mansbach, C. S. (2012). The gender marketing of toys: an analysis of color and type of toy on the Disney store website. Sex Roles, 67, 375–388.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0177-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banerjee, R., & Lintern, V. (2000). Boys will be boys: The effect of social evaluation concerns on gender-typing. Social Development, 9, 397–408.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (1992). Cognitive mechanisms in children’s gender stereotyping: Theoretical and educational implications of a cognitive-based intervention. Child Development, 63, 1351–1363.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1992.tb01700.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (2007). Developmental intergroup theory: Explaining and reducing children's social stereotyping and prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 162–166.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00496.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blakemore, J. E. O. (2003). Children’s beliefs about violating gender norms: Boys shouldn’t look like girls, and girls shouldn’t act like boys. Sex Roles, 48, 411–419.  https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1023574427720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blakemore, J. E. O., & Centers, R. E. (2005). Characteristics of boys’ and girls’ toys. Sex Roles, 53, 619–633.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-7729-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blakemore, J. E. O., Berenbaum, S. A., & Liben, L. S. (2009). Gender development. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  9. Boyatzis, C. J., & Varghese, R. (1994). Children’s emotional association with colors. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155, 77–85.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00221325.1994.9914760.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106, 676–713.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.106.4.676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chrisler, J. C., & McCreary, D. R. (2010). Handbook of gender research in psychology (Vol. 1). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cox, W. T. L., Abramson, L. Y., Devine, P. G., & Hollon, S. D. (2012). Stereotypes, prejudice, and depression: the integrated perspective. Perspectives of Psychological Science, 7, 427–449.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612455204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cunningham, S. J., & Macrae, C. N. (2011). The color of gender stereotyping. British Journal of Psychology, 102, 598–614.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02023.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dinella, L. M., & Weisgram, E. S. (2018). Gender-typing of children’s toys: Causes, consequences, and correlates. Sex Roles, 79, 253–259.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02023.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eagly, A. H., & Mladinic, A. (1994). Are people prejudiced against women? Some answers from research on attitudes, gender stereotypes, and judgments of competence. European Review of Social Psychology, 5, 1–35.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14792779543000002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ferguson, T. J., & Eyre, H. L. (2000). Engendering gender differences in shame and guilt: Stereotypes, socialization, and situational pressures. In A. Fischer (Ed.), Gender and emotion: Social psychological perspectives (pp. 254–277). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fox, J., & Tang, W. Y. (2014). Sexism in online video games: The role of conformity to masculine norms and social dominance orientation. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 314–320.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Freeman, N. (2007). Preschoolers’ perception of gender appropriate toys and their parents’ beliefs about genderized behaviors: miscommunication, mixed messages or hidden truths? Early Childhood Education Journal, 34, 357–366.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-006-0123-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gill, M. J. (2004). When information does not deter stereotyping: Prescriptive stereotyping can foster bias under conditions that deter descriptive stereotyping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 619–632.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2003.12.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Glick, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., & Fiske, P. (2006). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 77–83.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2006.11.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Golden, J. C., & Jacoby, J. W. (2018). Playing princess: Preschool girls’ interpretations of gender stereotypes in Disney princess media. Sex Roles, 79, 299–313.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0773-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Green, V. A., Bigler, R., & Catherwood, D. (2004). The variability and flexibility of gender-typed toy play: A close look at children's behavioral responses to counterstereotypic models. Sex Roles, 51, 371–386.  https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SERS.0000049227.05170.aa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liben, L. S., Bigler, R. S., Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L., & Powlishta, K. K. (2002). The developmental course of gender differentiation: Conceptualizing, measuring, and evaluating constructs and pathways. Boston, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Lobel, T. E., Bempechat, J., Gewirtz, J. C., Shoken-Topaz, T., & Basche, E. (1993). The role of gender-related information and self-endorsement of traits in preadolescents’ inferences and judgments. Child Development, 64, 1285–1294.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1131340.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Martin, C. L. (1990). Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles. Sex Roles, 22, 151–165.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martin, C. L., & Halverson Jr., C. F. (1981). A schematic processing model of sex typing and stereotyping in children. Child Development, 52, 1119–1134.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1129498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin, C. L., Ruble, R. S., & Szkrybalo, J. (2002). Cognitive theories of early gender development. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 903–933.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.128.6.903.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. McCreary, D. R. (1994). The male role and avoiding femininity. Sex Roles, 31, 517–531.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01544277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mulvey, K. L., & Killen, M. (2015). Challenging gender stereotypes: Resistance and exclusion. Child Development, 86, 681–694.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12317.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Murnen, S. K., Greenfield, C., Younger, A., & Boyd, H. (2016). Boys act and girls appear: A content analysis of gender stereotypes associated with characters in children’s popular culture. Sex Roles, 74, 78–91.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0558-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nesdale, D. (1999). Developmental changes in children’s ethnic preferences and social cognitions. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20, 501–519.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(99)00012-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O'Brien, M., Peyton, V., Mistry, R., Hruda, L., Jacobs, A., Caldera, Y., … Roy, C. (2000). Gender-role cognition in three-year-old boys and girls. Sex Roles, 42, 1007–1025.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007036600980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Picariello, M. L., Greenberg, D. N., & Pillemer, D. B. (1990). Children’s sex-related stereotyping of colors. Child Development, 61, 1453–1460.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1990.tb02874.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Pontes, H. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015). Measuring DSM-5 Internet gaming disorder: Development and validation of a short psychometric scale. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 137–143.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Prentice, A. D., & Carranza, E. (2002). What women and men should be, shouldn’t be, are allowed to be, and don’t have to be: The contents of prescriptive gender stereotypes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 269–281.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-6402.t01-1-00066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Radoš, S., Zdraveva, M., & Žeželj, I. (2019). Status dynamics in the classroom: Roma children’s implicit and explicit preference for majority children across age groups. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022119828498.
  37. Ridgeway, C. L. (2001). Gender, status, and leadership. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 637–655.  https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L., & Berenbaum, S. A. (1998). Gender development. In W. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 933–1016). Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
  39. Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L., & Berenbaum, S. A. (2006). Gender development. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 858–932). Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
  40. Smuđa, M. (2011). Razvoj rodnih stereotipa kod dece [Gender stereotype development in children]. Unpublished master thesis, University of Belgrade, Serbia.Google Scholar
  41. Spinner, L., Cameron, L., & Calogero, R. (2018). Peer toy play as a gateway to children’s gender flexibility: The effect of (counter) stereotypic portrayals of peers in children’s magazines. Sex Roles, 79(5–6), 314–328.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0883-3.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Stojilović, D., Đorđević, A., Čolić, M.V., Mančić, M., Novaković, S., & Žeželj, I. (2014). Rodni stereotipi i stereotipi o zanimanjima: kreiranje baze stereotipnih i kontrastereotipnih ponašanja i objekata [Gender and occupational stereotypes: Creating a base of stereotypical and counter-stereotypical behaviors and objects]. Paper presented at 21st Empirical Research in Psychology Book of Proceedings (pp. 110–111), University of Belgrade, Serbia.Google Scholar
  43. Sullivan, J., Moss-Racusin, C., Lopez, M., & Williams, K. (2018). Backlash against gender stereotype-violating preschool children. Plos ONE, 13, 1–24.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Swim, J. K., & Campbell, B. (2003). Sexism: attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. In R. Brown & S. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intergroup processes (pp. 238–235). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  45. Thompson, B. (2005). Canonical correlation analysis. In B. Everitt & D. C. Howell (Eds.), Encyclopedia of statistics in behavioral science (pp. 192–196). Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  46. Trautner, H. M., Ruble, D. N., Cyphers, L., Kirsten, B., Behrendt, R., & Hartmann, P. (2005). Rigidity and flexibility of gender stereotypes in children: Developmental or differential? Infant and Child Development, 14, 365–381.  https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Weinraub, M., Clemens, L. P., Sockloff, A., Ethridge, T., Gracely, E., & Myers, B. (1984). The development of sex role stereotypes in the third year: Relationships to gender labeling, gender identity, sex-types toy preference, and family characteristics. Child Development, 55, 1493–1503.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1130019.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Weisgram, E. S., Fulcher, M., & Dinella, L. M. (2014). Pink gives girls permission: Exploring the roles of explicit gender labels and gender-typed colors on preschool children's toy preferences. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35, 401–409.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2014.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wong, W. I., & Hines, M. (2015). Effects of gender color-coding on toddlers’ gender-typical toy play. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 1233–1242.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0400-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Yeung, S. P., & Wong, W. I. (2018). Gender labels on gender-neutral colors: Do they affect children’s color preferences and play performance? Sex Roles, 79, 1–13.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0875-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zosuls, K. M., Ruble, D. N., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Shrout, P. E., Bornstein, M. H., & Greulich, F. K. (2009). The acquisition of gender labels in infancy: Implications for gender-typed play. Developmental Psychology, 45, 688–701.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014053.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

Personalised recommendations