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Toddlers' inference of people's desires for objects : the effect of gender-stereotype knowledge

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Toddlers' inference of people's desires for objects : the effect of gender-stereotype knowledge

Eichstedt, Julie A (2002) Toddlers' inference of people's desires for objects : the effect of gender-stereotype knowledge. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Children as young as 18 months of age are capable of reasoning about other people's desires for objects and food items. During the same age range, children acquire concepts of male and female, including knowledge of the activities, toys, and other objects associated with each gender. The present study assessed whether children's knowledge of gender stereotypes plays a role in their inferences about men's and women's desires for objects. Using an object request task, 20- and 24-month-old children were shown a series of object pairs, each consisting of one feminine- and one masculine-stereotyped item. A male or female experimenter expressed a desire for one of the two items, as revealed by a happy vs. disgust facial expression, then requested that the child give him or her one item. Half of the children observed the experimenter expressing preferences for the gender-appropriate objects, and the other half, preferences for the gender-inappropriate objects. A stereotyping task was also included to ensure that the objects were gender stereotyped by the children. Children were hypothesized to be more likely to select the desired item to hand to the experimenter if it was gender consistent than if it was gender inconsistent, beginning at 24 months. This effect was hypothesized to be stronger for girls than boys. Children were also administered a task to assess their understanding of other people's desires for food items, in addition to various gender-concept and gender-typing measures. Results suggested that some children show a rudimentary ability to reason about others' desires for gender-typed objects in the second year of life. Specifically, boys who demonstrated adequate gender-category knowledge and a basic understanding of others' desires for food successfully offered the experimenter the desired item on the majority of trials. Although these boys also displayed significant gender-stereotype knowledge on the stereotyping trials, they based their desire inferences on the experimenter's affective cues, rather than on the gender stereotyping of the objects. Girls with similar gender and food desire knowledge, however, did not consistently offer the experimenter the desired items. Rather, they offered the experimenter cross-gender-typed items, regardless of which objects were desired.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Eichstedt, Julie A
Pagination:xi, 188 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Psychology
Date:2002
Thesis Supervisor(s):Serbin, Lisa A
ID Code:1913
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:23
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:23
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