Sex Roles

, Volume 48, Issue 9–10, pp 411–419 | Cite as

Children's Beliefs About Violating Gender Norms: Boys Shouldn't Look Like Girls, and Girls Shouldn't Act Like Boys

  • Judith E. Owen Blakemore


This research examined 3- to 11-year-old children's knowledge of and beliefs about violating several gender norms (e.g., toys, play styles, occupations, parental roles, hairstyles, and clothing) as compared to social and moral norms. Knowledge of the norms and understanding that norm violations were possible increased with age. The children's evaluations of violations of gender norms varied from item to item. Violations concerning becoming a parent of the other gender were devalued in both boys and girls, whereas most toy and occupation violations were not especially devalued in either. Boys with feminine hairstyles or clothing were evaluated more negatively than girls with masculine hairstyles or clothing. On the other hand, girls who played in masculine play styles were devalued relative to boys who played in feminine styles. Evaluations of norm violations were not consistently related to age.

gender norms gender development gender norm violation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith E. Owen Blakemore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana University–Purdue UniversityFort Wayne

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