Developmental Stability in Gender-Typed Preferences Between Infancy and Preschool Age

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Abstract

Infants exhibit visual preferences for gender-typed objects (e.g., dolls, toy vehicles) that parallel the gender-typed play preferences of preschool-aged children, but the developmental stability of individual differences in early emerging gender-typed preferences has not yet been characterized. In the present study, we examined the longitudinal association between infants’ (N = 51) performance on an object-preference task, administered between 6 and 13 months of age, and their play preferences at 4 years of age. Greater visual interest in a toy truck relative to a doll in infancy predicted significantly greater male-typical toy and activity preferences (e.g., play with vehicles, videogames) at age 4. These findings suggest that gender-typed object preferences present during the 1st year of life may represent the developmental precursors of gender-typed play preferences observed later in childhood.

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