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Lecture 3

Course Code
Alison Luby

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Lecture 3: Development of Gender Relations
Sex Typing and Gender Composition of Childrens Groups
Early research: based on socialization from parents but weak and inconsistent connections were found
Recent research: focuses on social groupings (formation, interaction and socialization that lead to sex typing)
Growing apart and later coming together (almost two separate cultures in childhood!)
By age
oInfants: dont show same-sex play preferences YET
oBy 2 years old: preferences start
oFrom about 3 years onward: choose same-sex playmates (even if grouped as mixed-sex play by adults, they
actively engage in segregation)
oUntil puberty: spend majority of their free play with exclusively with members of their own sex
Pairing with the opposite sex is rare; playing with a group of other-sex children are even rarer (exception:
If engaged in mixed-sex play, do it privately
This same-sex preference = across cultures
Gender differences
Play together in larger clusters; more involved in organized group games
Larger groups = more conflicts and competitions
Know less about their friends lives and base their friendship on shared activities
Interconnected friendship = if hes your friend, he can be my friend too! = functioning as a unit & clear
group identity
Split into dyads or triads (small groups are nested within larger social structures)
Small groups (dyads) = more responsive to their partners needs and perspective
Share information about the details of their lives and concerns
Nicolopoulou (1997)
oWatched classroom of preschool children and how they interacted & made stories
oSignificant gender differences
Boys stories: more focused on themes of conflict, danger, heroism, and winning
Girls stories: more focused on family and nonviolent themes
Although all children were exposed to all types of stories, they picked up on different themes based on
gender = two distinct subcultures emerge
Children develop subcultures based on socially shared cognitions and common interests in themes and scripts
that distinguish the sexes socially constructed elements to gender!
The “Two Cultures” of Childhood
Groups are segregated activities become even more separate plays become more gender-typed over time
Each gender is influencing people in its group and REINFORCING which activities are appropriate for each
Children quickly form gender schemas as well as learn from each other (willing to adopt and exaggerate
distinctions between the two sexes) become part of self-identity associate gender themes with the toys
they play
Blakemore and Centers (2005)
oPs (college students) were shown different types of toys labeled strongly/moderately masculine (feminine)
or neutral
oAsked to describe characteristics
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