Sex role discrimination and preference in preschool aged children Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7p88cj86b

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  • 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 family. 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.
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