Experimenter Influences and Children's Cross-Gender Behavior1

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Abstract

We measured 120 third and fourth grade children's willingness to participate in several behavioral tasks after assessing their verbal preferences for gender-typed and cross-gender activities (children were primarily Caucasian). Before beginning each task, children were either encouraged to or discouraged from engaging in cross-gender activities, or they were encouraged to choose whatever activities they preferred. Relative to the control condition, experimenters were able to reduce but not increase the proportion of cross-gender activities children engaged in. Children who gave high ratings to cross-gender items during the preference test were more willing than other children to take cross-gender selections home.

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