Comparison of preschool-aged children's sex-role preferences related to cultural and parental stereotypes Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x346d820k

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  • The primary purpose of this study was to explore preschool aged children's sex-role preferences as they relate to both cultural and parental stereotypes of sex roles. Forty-seven children of preschool age and their parents acted as subjects for this study. All children were enrolled in preschool programs established by the Family Life Department at Oregon State University. These children ranged in age from 3 years-3 months to 5 years-3 months. The IT Scale for Children (ITSC) was used to measure children's sex-role preferences, and parental stereotypes of sex roles were obtained by asking parents to judge each item found in the ITSC according to their own personal standards of masculinity and femininity. Cultural stereotypes of sex roles were determined by using Brown's exclusively masculine and exclusively feminine descriptions of items in the ITSC. The binomial method, paired difference t-test and descriptive statistics were used when appropriate, to test the hypotheses generated in this study. Findings revealed significant disagreements between parents' and Brown's cultural stereotypes of sex roles on a majority (86.1 %) of the items found in the ITSC (p < .05; p < .01). However, there were no significant agreements or disagreements between fathers' and mothers' stereotypes of sex roles on a majority (58.1 %) of the items found in the ITSC. Furthermore, boys' and girls' sex-role preferences were significantly (p < .10; p < .05; p < .01) more masculine and feminine, respectively, when based on their fathers' and mothers', rather than on Brown's, cultural stereotypes of sex roles. While boys and girls did not have significantly more masculine and feminine sex-role preferences, respectively, when based on their fathers' than on their mothers' stereotypes of sex roles, older boys had slightly more masculine sex-role preferences when their preferences were based on their fathers' stereotypes of sex roles, while younger boys had slightly more masculine sex-role preferences when their preferences were based on their mothers' stereotypes of sex roles. Furthermore, older girls had slightly more feminine sex-role preferences when their preferences were based on their mothers' stereotypes of sex roles, while younger girls had slightly more feminine sex-role preferences when their preferences were based on their fathers' stereotypes of sex roles. In general, findings indicated that both fathers' and mothers' stereotypes of sex roles should be considered in studies of sex-role preferences among young children. In addition, findings could be used to support a need for further assessment of the adequacy of theoretical positions which strongly emphasize the contribution of one parent to children's sex-role preferences. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research were also discussed.
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