• human sex differences;
  • memory;
  • stereotyped attitudes;
  • gender schema


Gender schema theories predict a memory bias toward sex-congruent information. The present study examined how presentation of stimuli and encoding conditions influence gender schematic processing in children and adults. One hundred and sixty 5- to 13-year olds and adult males and females viewed 36 sex-stereotyped toy pictures that were presented in a static and dynamical way. Half of the participants were asked to memorize the pictures (intentional memory) and half were not told that they would be expected to later recall the pictures (incidental memory). Weak gender schematic processing was observed only during the incidental memory task. Children and adults recalled more static than dynamic gender-stereotyped pictures, and performance was superior in the intentional than in the incidental memory condition. Gender schematic processing was similar across the age groups. In addition, participants were more likely to recall male-stereotyped toys. Implications for gender schema theories and education are discussed. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.