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The Role of Sex of Peers and Gender-Typed Activities in Young Children's Peer Affiliative Networks: A Longitudinal Analysis of Selection and Influence


  • The first two authors contributed equally to this research. This research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development awarded to Carol Martin, Richard Fabes, and Laura Hanish (1 R01 HD45816), and by the T. Denny Sanford Foundation. The authors would like to thank the graduate and undergraduate students who contributed to this project and the children and teachers for their participation.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Carol Martin or Olga Kornienko, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, Tempe, AR 85287-3701. Electronic mail may be sent to or


A stochastic actor-based model was used to investigate the origins of sex segregation by examining how similarity in sex of peers and time spent in gender-typed activities affected affiliation network selection and how peers influenced children's (= 292; Mage = 4.3 years) activity involvement. Gender had powerful effects on interactions through direct and indirect pathways. Children selected playmates of the same sex and with similar levels of gender-typed activities. Selection based on gender-typed activities partially mediated selection based on sex of peers. Children influenced one another's engagement in gender-typed activities. When mechanisms producing sex segregation were compared, the largest contributor was selection based on sex of peers; less was due to activity-based selection and peer influence. Implications for sex segregation and gender development are discussed.