Navigation Links
Even 9-Month-Olds Choose 'Gender-Specific' Toys
Date:4/15/2010

Study found boys went for cars and trucks, while girls chose doll, teddy bear

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Parents may want their girls to grow up to be astronauts and their boys to one day do their fair share of child care and housework duties, but a new study suggests certain stereotypical gender preferences take root even before most kids can crawl.

When presented with seven different toys, boys as young as 9 months old went for the car, digger and soccer ball, while ignoring the teddy bears, doll and cooking set.

And the girls? You guessed it. At the same age, they were most interested in the doll, teddy bear and miniature pot, spoon and plastic vegetables.

"The boys always preferred the toys that go or move, and the girls preferred toys that promote nurturing and facial features," said study author Sara Amalie O'Toole Thommessen, an undergraduate at City University in London.

So does this mean that boys and girls have an innate preference for certain types of objects? Or does socialization -- that is, the influence of parents and the larger culture -- impact children's choice of toys very early in life?

It's too soon to rule either out, said Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University.

"One of the things we've learned about babies over the many years we've been studying them is that they are amazing sponges and learn an awful lot in those nine months," Gilliam said.

The study was to be presented Friday at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was lots of interest in the "nature" versus "nurture" debate, and developmental researchers did plenty of research on gender differences in play. However, most studies were inconclusive and interest faded, Thommessen said.

At the same time, roles within the home were becoming more fluid, with fathers taking on more child care and women working more and at a greater variety of jobs outside the home, though the marketing of children's toys remained very stereotypical.

This latest study included 83 children aged 9 months to 3 years who were observed playing for three minutes. The time they spent touching or playing with each object was noted.

Researchers chose the toys by surveying 300 adults about the first toy that came to mind when they thought of a boy or a girl. About 90 percent said "car" for boy and "doll" for girls, with the remainder mentioning the other toys.

Children were also offered both a pink teddy bear and a blue teddy bear. "We were quite interested to see if boys had a color preference, but boys didn't show any interest in the teddy bears at all," Thommessen said.

Gender-specific preferences became even more pronounced as the children got older. By about age 27 months to 36 months, girls spent about 50 percent of their time playing with the doll, and were no longer much interested in the teddy bear, which had interested them when they were younger, or any of the other objects. The boys spent 87 percent of their time with the car and digger, ignoring even the ball.

The finding raises the possibility of a biological basis for toy choices. A study from 2001 found even 1-day-old boys spent longer looking at moving, mechanical options than 1-day-old girls, who spent more time looking at faces.

Yet the impact of socialization should never be underestimated, Gilliam said. Studies have shown parents and others interact differently with female and male babies from almost the instant they're born, Gilliam said.

Even when they're infants, fathers tend to encourage more active play with boy babies, by playfully tickling or poking them, while they tend to hold girl babies closer. Parents have also been observed spending more time talking to girls than to boys.

As they get older, studies have shown boys are encouraged to more actively explore their environment, while girls are encouraged to engage in quieter play.

"Even if your boy prefers playing with a truck, make sure you talk to him and teach him about nurturing," Gilliam said. "Even if a girl is playing with a doll, every once in a while throw her a ball or take her on a run. Expose them to all the different possibilities, and then let them choose."

And keep in mind just how much you may be dragging your own stereotypical notions into parenting.

In the study, researchers found no association between parents' reported views on gender-appropriate toys for children, or parental roles at home, and the toys children chose. In other words, dads who did their share of housework and moms who held high-level jobs outside the home were just as likely to have girls who picked dolls and boys who picked cars and trucks.

But Gilliam remembers one family who brought their young son in to see him. There was an assortment of toys scattered on the floor, from which the boy chose a plastic figurine. "The mom said, 'Oh, he wants to play with dolls.' And the father replied, 'He's not playing with dolls. Those are action figures.'"

More information

The International Play Association has more on why it's important for children to play.



SOURCES: Sara Amalie O'Toole Thommessen, student, City University, London; Walter Gilliam, Ph.D., associate professor, child psychiatry and psychology, and director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; April 15, 2010, presentation, British Psychological Society annual conference, Stratford-upon-Avon


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Wisconsin Department of Transportation Chooses EF Johnson Technologies, Inc. for Statewide First Responder Communications System in $13.2 Million Contract
2. New Hampshire Community Colleges Choose Rapid Insight for Data Reporting Needs
3. CoxHealth Chooses Omnicell Solutions for Medication and Supply Management
4. Who Should Deliver Your Baby? New Tool Helps Expectant Parents Choose Their Health Care Provider
5. Consumers Choose Dallas Hospital for National Award Based on Quality and Image
6. Three NHS Trusts Choose BigHand Voice Technology Under YHCPC Framework Agreement
7. Worlds Leading Manufacturer of IV Solutions Chooses Three RIVA Systems
8. Greystone Healthcare Chooses Patient Placement Systems to Automate Admissions Processes
9. Webhost4less Chooses GlobalSign's SSL Certificates to Compliment New Hosting Services
10. Blood Draw Dilemma: New Summit Health Article Helps Employers Choose the Best Screening Method
11. A Cheek Swab to Choose Your Diet Plan?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... IsoComforter, ... the introduction of the innovative newly improved Iso-Hip Wrap. The newly designed ... plush design enhances comfort and enables the patient to enjoy the benefits of ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... MD (PRWEB) , ... May 04, 2016 , ... ... Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society™ and Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy ... event promotion, time saving and planning tools to attendees and exhibitors for the ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... 04, 2016 , ... Washington Wellness Center today announced its tenth anniversary of ... What started out as an idea to provide a holistic approach to wellness has ... Developed by Dr. David Swanekamp, Chiropractic Physician , the wellness center offers a ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... Momsense, Inc. ... The company’s patented technology, The Smart Breastfeeding Meter, is designed to monitor and ... technology is now available for purchase at Target.com . , Breastfeeding ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... Natalie Jill is ... company MitoXcell in preparation of the launch of her new book: Natalie Jill’s 7 ... a nutritional guide designed to jump start a new healthy lifestyle featuring simple recipes ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... May 4, 2016 According to market ... and Demand Forecast to 2022 - Industry Insights by Slice ... Center and Others)" by P&S Market Research, the global ... 2015, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR ... slice type segment is expected to witness the faster growth, ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... Research and Markets has ... Myeloma Market and Competitive Landscape Highlights - ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ... Highlights 2016, provides comprehensive insights into Multiple ... Myeloma market valuations and forecast, Multiple Myeloma ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... DUBLIN , May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... the addition of the  "Global Acute lymphocytic ... 2016"  report to their offering.  ... Global Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia Market and ... into Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia pipeline products, Acute ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: