Sex Roles

, Volume 45, Issue 9–10, pp 623–643 | Cite as

Modifying Children's Gender-Typed Musical Instrument Preferences: The Effects of Gender and Age

  • Samantha Pickering
  • Betty RepacholiEmail author


Previous research has indicated that children display gender-typed musical instrument preferences. Two studies were conducted to determine (a) whether these preferences can be modified by presenting counter-examples (i.e., instruments played by gender-inappropriate musicians) and (b) whether child gender or age (kindergarten vs. 4th grade) influences the efficacy of such interventions. A videotape presentation format was employed in Study 1 and drawings in Study 2. Children exposed to counter-examples were less stereotyped than those who saw the instruments without musicians (Study 1) or with gender-appropriate musicians (Studies 1 & 2). Age did not influence children's responsiveness to the counter-examples, but boys were more resistant to the intervention than girls. There was some evidence that the counter-examples were effective not simply because children were attracted to same-sex musicians. Instead, children's instrument choices also appeared to be motivated by a desire to avoid behaving like musicians of the other-sex. Potential strategies for increasing children's responsiveness to instrument counter-examples (e.g., multiple exemplars; portrayal of positive consequences) were also discussed.

gender stereotypes children musical instruments 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abeles, H. F., & Porter, S. Y. (1978). The sex-stereotyping of musical instruments. Journal of Research in Music Education, 26, 65-75.Google Scholar
  2. Alpert, J. L. (1980). The effect of disc jockey, peer, and music teacher approval of music on music selection and preference. Journal of Research in Music Education, 30, 173-186.Google Scholar
  3. Archer, J. (1984). Gender roles as developmental pathways. British Journal of Social Psychology, 23, 245-256.Google Scholar
  4. Ashton, E. (1983). Measures of play behavior: The influence of sex-role stereotyped children's books. Sex Roles, 9, 43-47.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1998). Socio-economic indexes for areas: Census 1996. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  6. Bruce, R., & Kemp, A. (1993). Sex-stereotyping in children's preferences for musical instruments. British Journal of Music Education, 10, 213-217.Google Scholar
  7. Bussey, K., & Perry, D. G. (1982). Same-sex imitation: The avoidance of cross-sex models or the acceptance of same-sex models? Sex Roles, 8, 773-784.Google Scholar
  8. Byo, J. (1991).Anassessment of musical instrument preferences of third-grade children. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 110, 21-32.Google Scholar
  9. Crowther, R. D., & Durkin, K. (1982). Sex and age related differences in the musical behaviour, interests and attitudes towards music of 232 secondary school students. Educational Studies, 8, 131-139.Google Scholar
  10. Delzell, J. K., & Leppla, D. A. (1992). Gender associations of musical instruments and preferences of fourth grade students for selected instruments. Journal of Research in Music Education, 40, 93-103.Google Scholar
  11. Dorow, L. G. (1977). The effect of teacher approval/disapproval ratios on student music selection behavior and concert attentiveness. Journal of Research in Music Education, 25, 32-40.Google Scholar
  12. Durkin, K. (1985). Television and sex-role acquisition: 3. Counter-stereotyping. British Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 211-222.Google Scholar
  13. Durkin, K., & Hutchins, G. (1984). Challenging traditional sex role in careers education broadcasts: The reactions of young secondary school pupils. Journal of Educational Television, 10, 25-33.Google Scholar
  14. Etaugh, C., & Liss, M.B. (1992). Home, school, and playroom:Training grounds for adult gender roles. Sex Roles, 26, 129-147.Google Scholar
  15. Fagot, B. I., & Hagan, R. (1991). Observations of parent reactions to sex-stereotyped behaviors: Age and sex effects. Child Development, 62, 617-628.Google Scholar
  16. Gordon, G. E. (1991). Final results of a two-year longitudinal predictive validity study of the instrument timbre preference test and the musical aptitude profile. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 89, 8-17.Google Scholar
  17. Griswold, P. A., & Chroback, D. A. (1981). Sex role associations of musical instruments and occupations by gender and major. Journal of Research in Music Education, 29, 57-62.Google Scholar
  18. Harrison, A. C., & O'Neill, S. A. (2000). Children's gender-typed preferences for musical instruments: An intervention study. Psychology of Music, 28, 81-97.Google Scholar
  19. Jeffery, L., & Durkin, K. (1989). Children's reactions to televised counter-stereotyped male sex role behaviour as a function of age, sex and perceived power. Social Behaviour, 4, 285-310.Google Scholar
  20. Katz, P. A., & Boswell, S. (1986). Flexibility and traditionality in children's gender roles. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 112, 103-147.Google Scholar
  21. Katz, P. A., & Walsh, P. V. (1991). Modification of children's gender-stereotyped behavior. Child Development, 62, 338-351.Google Scholar
  22. Kuhn, T. L. (1980). Instrumentation for the measurement of music attitudes. Contributions to Music Education, 8, 2-38.Google Scholar
  23. Martin, C. L. (1990). Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles. Sex Roles, 22, 151-165.Google Scholar
  24. Martin, C. L., & Halverson, C. F. (1983). The effects of sex-typing schemas on young children's memory. Child Development, 54, 563-574.Google Scholar
  25. Martin, C. L., & Little, J. K. (1990). The relation of gender understanding to children's sex-typed preferences and gender stereotypes. Child Development, 61, 1427-1439.Google Scholar
  26. O'Neill, S. A., & Boulton, M. J. (1996). Boys' and girls' preferences for musical instruments: A function of gender? Psychology of Music, 24, 171-183.Google Scholar
  27. Perry, D. G., & Bussey, K. (1979). The social learning theory of sex differences: Imitation is alive and well. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1699-1712.Google Scholar
  28. Pingree, S. (1978). The effects of non-sexist television commercials and perceptions of reality on children's attitudes about women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2, 262-277.Google Scholar
  29. Schunk, D. H. (1987). Peer models and children's behavioral change. Review of Educational Research, 57, 149-174.Google Scholar
  30. Serbin, L. A., Powlishta, K. K., & Gulko, J. (1993). The development of sex-typing in middle childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58 (Serial No. 232).Google Scholar
  31. Shehan, P. K. (1979). The effect of the television series, Music, on music listening preferences and achievement of elementary general music students. Contributions to Music Education, 7, 51-62.Google Scholar
  32. Stangor, C., & Ruble, D. N. (1989). Differential influences of gender schemata and gender constancy on children's information processing and behavior. Social Cognition, 7, 353-372.Google Scholar
  33. Stoddart, T., & Turiel, E. (1985). Children's concepts of cross-gender activities. Child Development, 56, 1241-1252.Google Scholar
  34. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (1996). Using multivariate statistics (3rd ed.) New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  35. Turner, P. J., Gervai, J., & Hinde, R. A. (1993). Gender-typing in young children: Preferences, behavior and cultural differences. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11, 323-342.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Macquarie UniversityUSA;

Personalised recommendations