The Variability and Flexibility of Gender-Typed Toy Play: A Close Look at Children's Behavioral Responses to Counterstereotypic Models
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- Green, V.A., Bigler, R. & Catherwood, D. Sex Roles (2004) 51: 371. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000049227.05170.aa
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Gender differences in play behavior are well documented. However, little work has examined the issue of variability of gender-typed behaviors within individuals or within genders. We investigated whether children's gender-typed toy play behavior is (a) variable across time within individuals, and (b) variable in response to exposure to counterstereotypic models. Extensive observations (N=203) were made of 8 highly gender-typed preschool children over 4 months. Variability was assessed by examining changes in the percentage of masculine and feminine toy play across successive days in which (a) gender neutral stories were read (within-individual variability) and (b) gender counterstereotypic stories were introduced (environmental variability). Variability of gender-typed play within individuals and in response to environmental stimuli was found among girls, but not among boys.