|Abstract or Summary
- The purpose of this study was the development of the Sex Role
Learning Index (SERLI), a picture choice instrument for assessing the
concepts of sex role discrimination, preference, and confirmation in
young children. The SERLI consists of 60 black-and-white line drawings
depicting common objects, child activities and adult activities
In administering the SERLI, the child is first asked to sort the
object items, which are representative of the activities and roles
used later, into boxes labelled "for boys", or "for girls". The sex
role discrimination score is the degree to which these designations
agree with cultural sex role stereotypes. The child is then shown
sets of items depicting either child or adult figures of his or her
own sex, involved in a variety of sex-appropriate and cross-sex activities.
The order of the child's choices is used to rank the items
from most to least preferred.
The scoring of sex role preference and confirmation is based on
the degree to which the order of the child's choices of sex-appropriate items deviates from what would be expected from purely random
choosing. The scoring of sex role preference is based on the order
of the child's choices of the items culturally defined as being sex-appropriate,
while sex role confirmation is scored relative to the
child's own designations of which items were sex-appropriate.
To test the validity and reliability of the SERLI, the test was
administered to 56 preschool aged children, aged 36 to 64 months.
All of the children were average or above in intelligence, and were
from the middle and upper socioeconomic classes. Reliabilities were
determined by retesting a subsample of 36 children, three weeks after
the initial testing.
Split-plot analyses of variance and regression analyses were
used to test specific hypotheses regarding the effects of the sex
of the experimenter, and the sex and age of the child, as well as
to compare SERLI sections and concepts. Product-moment correlation
coefficients were used to estimate test-retest reliabilities.
The results showed that boys and girls increased in their awareness
of sex roles with age, and were more aware of their own rather
than their opposite sex role. In addition, younger boys appeared
to be more aware of their own sex role than younger girls, while
girls appeared to be more aware of their opposite sex role than boys.
For sex role preference and confirmation, boys scored higher in the
Child Figures section than in the Adult Figures section, while girls
showed an opposite pattern. Boys also scored significantly higher
than girls on the Child Figures sections for both of these scales.
In the Adult Figures section, however, girls scored higher than boys
on confirmation, but not on preference. The test-retest reliabilities for all of the SERLI scales were significant, and were in the range
expected for preschool aged children.
These results were related to previous research on sex role learning,
and were discussed from a variety of theoretical frameworks.
Overall, this study supported the adequacy of the SERLI as a measure
of early sex role learning, and suggested that the SERLI may have
several advantages over previous measures.