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Sex differences in children's play behavior: A biological construction of gender?
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis addressed the question of what causes sex differences in children's play behavior.

In Study I, it was found that mothers have rather sex-stereotyped expectations for how their 1- and 3-year-old children will behave at the age of five, as regards sex-typed activities. The parents' wishes, however, were less stereotyped, even if they differed significantly depending on the sex of the child. In Study II, where girls and boys at 1, 3, and 5 years of age were studied, and Study III, where girls and boys at 6, 9, 12 months of age were studied, in two different structured play situations, sex differences in toy play were observable already at the age of 12 months. In Study IV, the play behavior of girls affected by congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAB) was studied. Their play was compared with that of non-affected girls. A clear dose-response relationship was found between prenatal androgen levels (genotype) and toy preferences. Parents' participation did not affect the children's play; A questionnaire showed that although parents of girls with CAH expected and described more masculine interests, their wishes were not different from those of parents of non-affected girls.

The results are discussed in terms of how biology can affect such specific behaviors as toy play. It is suggested that evolution has provided the biological base for the observed sex differences, and probably for general sex differences between girls and boys, and women and men.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , 60 p.
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 0282-7492 ; 86
Keyword [en]
Psychology, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, sex differences, children, play, expectations, wishes, hormones, biology
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-397ISBN: 91-554-4593-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-397DiVA: diva2:163964
Public defence
1999-12-03, Room IX, University Building, Uppsala, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 1999-11-12 Created: 1999-11-12Bibliographically approved

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