Effects of gender stereotyped children’s literature on preschool children’s attitudes
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The goal of the current study is to explore the effects of gender stereotypes in children’s literature on children’s perceptions of appropriate roles, traits, and behaviors. The participants were 27, 3 to 5-year-old students at the Elisabeth Amen Nursery School at Wheaton College. The children participated in three sessions in which they listened to the experimenter read a gender-stereotyped, gender-counter-stereotyped, or genderneutral story. Participants were then asked to assign occupations, activities, and traits to a family of dolls. Items were considered strongly masculine, feminine, or neutral. The study was a quantitative 2 (masculine vs. feminine item) X 3 (condition) repeated measures design. It was hypothesized that children would associate stereotypically feminine items with female dolls and stereotypically masculine items with male dolls but that this tendency would be lower in the counter-stereotypical condition. Children were found to choose fewer stereotypic items in the counter-stereotypic condition, and more counter-stereotypic items than in any other condition. The findings are discussed in terms of their applications to children’s gender development and the importance of recognizing gender norms that are present in children’s literature.
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