Stereotyping Gender Specific Stimuli and Toy Perception in Children
Mentor:Kimberley Duff, Professor of Psychology, Cerritos College
This study examined the process through which children stereotype gender specific stimuli and perceive specific toys. Preschool children (N = 21) were randomly assigned to three different groups, and each child viewed the same six toys: a Barbie, tea set, car, football, legos, and a puzzle. The toys were either presented with no gender stereotypes salient, typical gender stereotypes salient, or counter-stereotypes salient. It was predicted that the way a toy was presented would not impact whether or not a child wanted to play with the toy, and that they would answer based on stereotypical sex roles. The results supported the hypothesis and found that there was no significant difference among the three different groups in terms of toy presentation. This showed that the variation in toy presentation did not impact a child’s toy preference and that by the age of 4 children already had a concrete idea of gender roles. The variable that did impact a child’s toy perception was the stereotyped gender of a toy. Children pick up on implicit societal cues and let their parents and peers mold their idea of what is deemed acceptable for their sex. When making a decision on a toy, a child takes into account whether or not it is for their own particular gender, and in turn believes that all other children of their same sex will enjoy what they enjoy.