Preferential same-sex imitation by toddlers
In the experiment reported here, 18-month-old toddlers (n = 60) and 24-month-old toddlers (n = 60) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: observing same-sex models, observing opposite-sex models, or a control condition. Subjects who observed models (n = 96) were shown a videotape of either three girls or three boys demonstrating target acts on objects. The subjects were then given the objects and their responses were coded for the number of target acts they produced. Subjects in the control condition (n = 24) were given the objects without any demonstration to see what target acts they might spontaneously produce. The results showed a strong effect of observing models: Subjects in both age groups produced significantly more of the target acts after observing the videotapes than those who were given the objects with no demonstration. In addition, results showed an effect for observing same-sex versus opposite-sex models for 18-month-old boys. The 18-month-old boys who observed boy models produced significantly more of the target acts, and produced them earlier in the response period, than boys who observed girls. An interaction was found between the type of object that these boys were given and the sex of the model they observed: Boys who observed boy models produced more target acts when given a hammer or a collapsible cup, and less target acts when given a doll, than boys who observed girl models. These findings are discussed in relation to the development of gender identification and gender-stereotyped behavior in young children.
- Psychology