Investigating Preschoolers’ Categorical Thinking About Gender Through Imitation, Attention, and the Use of Self-Categories
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2008
© 2008, Copyright the Author(s); Journal Compilation © 2008, Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 79, Issue 6, pages 1928–1941, November/December 2008
How to Cite
Grace, D. M., David, B. J. and Ryan, M. K. (2008), Investigating Preschoolers’ Categorical Thinking About Gender Through Imitation, Attention, and the Use of Self-Categories. Child Development, 79: 1928–1941. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01234.x
- Issue published online: 18 NOV 2008
- Article first published online: 18 NOV 2008
Whereas traditional theories of gender development have focused on individualistic paths, recent analyses have argued for a more social categorical approach to children’s understanding of gender. Using a modeling paradigm based on K. Bussey and A. Bandura (1984), 3 experiments (N = 62, N = 32, and N = 64) examined preschoolers’ (M age = 52.9 months) imitation of, and memory for, behaviors of same-sex and opposite-sex children and adults. In all experiments, children’s imitation of models varied according to the emphasis given to the particular category of models, despite equal attention being paid to both categories. It is suggested that the categorical nature of gender, or age, informs children’s choice of imitative behaviors.