Good Example Of Article Review On Gender Preferences: Sex Differences In Infants’ Visual Interest In Toys
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This paper is dedicated to reviewing the article “Sex Differences in Infants’ Visual Interest in Toys” by Alexander, Wilcox & Woods (2009.) This article is explaining how the gender differences in the children’s preferences for perceptual features accompanied with social influences shape the preferences for sex-linked toys (for example, dolls or cars). The main value of this research for the theory of gender-specified differences in human behaviour is that it contradicted the previous hypothesis that the early toy preferences are innate and pre-defined by the activities that are supported by toys and supported the point of view that toy preferences are experience-independent manifestations of gender-linked social behaviour.
Keywords: gender-related toy preferences, infants, sex differences.
Sex differences in children's toy preferences have attracted the attention of various scholars as earliest manifestations of gender identity. There exist different points of view on nature of these differences. Some researchers suggest that gender-related toy preferences arise from gender socialization in early age and do not depend on biological factors. The other studies support the hypothesis that the toy preferences reflect biologically determined predisposition to specific juvenile activities, supported by particular types of toys. This point of view was supported with comparative studies involving non-human primates. The current study “Sex Differences in Infants’ Visual Interest in Toys” by Alexander, Wilcox & Woods (2009) supports the hypothesis that preferences for toys are formed form as a result of sexually dimorphic innate preferences for various features such as color, movement and shape, and are complemented by social influences, well-described in existing body of research.
As toys replicate the real world objects, the gender-related preferences have always been considered as the earl manifestations of gender-specific behaviors in children as well as of gender role models. The existing researches evidence that boys generally prefer playing with toys representing wheeled objects such as cars, construction materials and instruments while girls are more interested in interacting with toys representing people (especially children) and household items (Connor & Serbin, Smith & Daglish, O’Brien & Huston, as cited Alexander, Wilcox & Woods (2009.) Understanding the nature of sexually dimorphic toy preferences have extensive implications for theories and psychological practice concerning gender differences in human behaviour.
The preceding studies described gender-related toy preferences in children in the second year of life and have suggested that the differences were contributed to learned associations between toys, real-world objects and gender role models of men and women. According to Alexander & Hines (2002), sexually dimorphic toy preferences “may be viewed as evidence of sex-typed object categories that are acquired through learning and cognitive development”. For example, toys preferred by boys offer greater opportunities for involving in active or rough play and may be related to skills that facilitate males in hunting or searching for food (McBurney et al., as cited in Alexander & Hines, 2002.) The studies also found stronger preference for masculine toys in young boys, while the stereotypic feminine preferences in girls were more flexible (Hassett, Siebert & Wallen, 2008.)
The study by Alexander, Wilcox and Woods (2009) was focused on studying the visual fixations of infants in their first year of life (median age 5.5 months for boys and 6.1 months for girls). In contrast with the previous studies addressing visual preferences of infants, the current study operated with three-dimensional toys instead of pictures. The visual fixations were studied with the help of the infra-red eye-tracker. A doll and a truck were chosen as sex-typed object models. The early age of study participants excluded any suggestion that object interests in infants can be associated with “an internal motivation to conform to external referents of gender role behavior” (Alexander, Wilcox and Woods, 2009.)
The key of the analyzed study is that its authors, using eye-tracking technology, found strong evidence that gender-related social and cognitive processes in human development are built on preexisting preferences for specific toy categories (Alexander, Wilcox and Woods, 2009.) The study had also created background for further research in the field. For example, the study by Jadva, Hines and Golombok (2010), using the visual preferences study techniques, extended the results of the study by Alexander, Wilcox and Woods about the sexual differences. The authors concluded that preferences for colors and shapes and boy’s avoidance of dolls may arise from socialization rather than from the innate factors. The research by LoBue and DeLoache (2011) also focused on development of gender-specific color preferences in the process of socialization. The study of Alexander, Wilcox and Woods (2009) has a significant practical importance, because it contributes to the understanding of the nature of early manifestations of gender differences and formation of sexual behaviors and gender roles.
Alexander, G.M., Wilcox, T. and Woods, R. (2009). Sex Differences in Infants’ Visual Interest in Toys. Arch Sex Behav (2009) 38:427–433
Alexander, G.M. & Hines, M. (2002). Sex differences in response to children's toys in nonhuman primates (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus). Evolution & Human Behavior, November 2002Volume 23, Issue 6, Pages 467–479. Retrieved from http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138%2802%2900107-1/abstract
Jadva, V., Hines, M. & Golombok, S. (2010). Infants’ Preferences for Toys, Colors, and Shapes: Sex Differences and Similarities. Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1261–1273. DOI 10.1007/s10508-010-9618-z. Retrieved from http://sites.oxy.edu/clint/physio/article/infantspreferencesfortoyscolorsandshapessexdifferencesandsimilarities.pdf
Hassett, J.M., Siebert, E.R. & Wallen, K. (2008). Sex differences in rhesus monkey toy preferences parallel those of children. Horm Behav. 2008 Aug; 54(3): 359–364. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/
LoBue, V. & DeLoache, J. S. (2011). Pretty in pink: The early development of gender-stereotyped colour preferences. British Journal of Developmental Psychology (2011), 29, 656–667. Retrieved from http://childstudycenter.rutgers.edu/Publications_files/LoBue%20%26%20DeLoache,%202011.pdf
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