- The two major purposes of this study were: (1) to test the
assumption that the IT Scale for Children (standard-ITSC) can be used
as a measure of both appropriate sex role discrimination and sex role
preference with preschool aged children, and (2) to extend previous
studies in these areas by analyzing the relationship between sex role
discrimination and preference, and a variety of variables shown to be
important in understanding sex role development in, young children.
These variables included such characteristics as sex, age, IQ,' preschool
program involvement and sibling status.
In attempting to test the assumption regarding the adequacy of
the standard-ITSC as a measure of both appropriate sex role discrimination
and sex role perference, all subjects were administered the
ITSC three times; once using the standard-ITSC with the sex of the IT
figure not designated, once using a modified-ITSC with the IT figure
replaced by a clear drawing of a little boy, and once using a modified-
ITSC with the IT figure replaced by a clear drawing of a little girl.
The subjects of the present study were 38 children attending two
preschool programs established by the Department of Family Life at
Oregon State University. Essentially, subjects in these two preschool
programs represented matched pairs based on the variables of
age, sex, ordinal position, age of parents, length of parents' marriage,
number of children in the family, religion and socioeconomic status of
The instruments used to collect the data for the present study included
the standard-ITSC and a modified-ITSC which was specifically
designed for this study. The standard -'ITSC was used as a measure of
sex role preference, while the modified-ITSC was used as a measure
of sex role discrimination. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test was
used to estimate the subjects' IQ scores.
The analysis of variance approach was used to test three null
hypotheses concerning the subjects' own sex role discrimination,
opposite sex role discrimination and sex role preference scores. The
paired-difference test was used to test two additional null hypotheses
related to comparisons of the subjects' sex role discrimination and sex
role preference scores.
The test of Hypothesis I, dealing with own sex role discrimination
scores, revealed .a significant interaction effect for sex X preschool program, and indicated that subjects with same-sex teachers
were slightly better than subjects with opposite-sex teachers, in their
ability to make own sex role discriminations.
The findings associated with the tests of opposite sex role discrimination
scores indicated that: (1) whether the subjects were
grouped by sex or sex x age, girls were significantly better than boys
in their ability to make opposite sex role discriminations, (2) while
older girls were better than younger girls in their opposite sex role
discrimination scores, the reverse was true for boys, and (3) older
and younger girls differed in their ability to make opposite sex role
discriminations to a greater degree than did older and younger boys.
The test of Hypothesis III, dealing with sex role preference
scores, was perhaps the most productive of those in this group, in that
three of the four main effects yielded significance, as did three of the
sex interaction effects. Tests of the main effects indicated that boys,
older subjects, and subjects with male teachers had significantly more
appropriate sex role preference scores than did their opposite in these
groupings. In addition, the significant interaction terms suggest the
following: (1) whether the subjects were grouped by sex X age, IQ or
preschool program, boys tended to have more appropriate sex role
preference scores than girls, (2) while older boys tended to have more
appropriate sex role preference scores than younger boys, this was not
noticeable for girls, (3) while average girls tended to have more
appropriate sex role preference scores than rapid girls, there was
only a minor difference between rapid and average boys, and (4) while
boys with same-sex teachers had more appropriate sex role preference
scores than boys with opposite-sex teachers, girls with same- or
opposite-sex teachers did not differ appreciably from each other.
Results of the paired-difference test as applied to the two additional
hypotheses in this study indicated that whether the subjects were
grouped by sex, age, IQ, preschool program or sibling status: (1)
replacing the IT figure with a clear drawing of a boy in testing, resulted
in significantly higher, more masculine mean scores, and (2) replacing
the IT figure with a clear drawing of a girl in testing, resulted
in significantly lower, more feminine mean scores.
It was concluded that collectively these findings did little to resolve
the controversy concerning the use of the standard-ITSC as a
measure of both sex role discrimination and preference with preschool
aged children. It appears that the findings could be used with equal
facility to support and to question this assumption. Attempts were
made to relate all specific findings to both theoretical positions and
existing research findings in the area of sex role discrimination and
preference in preschool aged children. Because of the complexity of
the data and the analysis, definitive conclusions regarding the implications
of the findings were not possible. In general, however, the results
support the multi-dimensional nature of sex role development in young children and strongly document the need for future researchers
to include additional child and environmental variables in their studies.
Possible interpretations of the findings and trends in the data were
discussed, and sections dealing with limitations of the study and suggestions
for future research were presented.