In one article, gender-typed behaviors were explored in relation to whether or not they remained stable from infancy and throughout early childhood (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018). This longitudinal study explored the relationship between infant’s preferences for gender-typed objects measured between the six and thirteen-month age ranges, and then again at the age of four with regard to gender-typed play (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018). The authors predicted that if object preferences were present during the first year of life then they would also have gender-typed play and continued gender preferences later on in their childhood and predictably throughout their lifespan (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018). The sample was fifty-two children, twenty five of whom were girls and whose parents filled out play preference questionnaires to participate in the study (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018). As infants, the children participated in a single-session gender-typed object-preference task, and caregivers at the outset of the study were also contacted to continue in the later parts of the study (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018). The study found that there is longitudinal evidence to support developmental stability in children’s gender-typed preferences between infancy and preschool age (Lauer, Ilksoy & Lourenco, 2018).
As a gender-typed task was assigned to each child and was run by a scientist, one potential way that gender-related bias may have been seen in this study is through the Experimenter effects; the ways in which the experimenter may influence results of a study either advertently or inadvertently (Helgeson, 2017). Indeed, the experimenter can potentially influence a study by having a self-filling prophecy, or assuming the results are going to go a certain way and thus pushing that the results that way either on purpose or on accident (Helgeson, 2017). Additionally, as the children were all entered into the study through a questionnaire filled out by the parents, there are potential biases that may have come from the parents – perhaps they may not have accurately identified the true gender bias of the child but more accurately identified their own gender-type (Helgeson, 2017).
One way to address these issues would be to have more than one researcher in charge of observing gender-tasks and multiple researchers can work together to come to a conclusion about what their observation is (Helgeson, 2017). Additionally, they could ask the parents to fill out not just one but multiple surveys in order to make sure that they were getting accurate information which also remained stable over time (Helgeson, 2017).
Helgeson, V.C. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th Ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
Hyde, J. S. (2014). Gender similarities and differences. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 373–398. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115057
Lauer, J. E., Ilksoy, S. D., & Lourenco, S. F. (2018). Developmental stability in gender-typed preferences between infancy and preschool age. Developmental Psychology, 54(4), 613-620. doi:10.1037/dev0000468
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