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Br J Psychol. 2010 Feb;101(Pt 1):137-54. doi: 10.1348/000712609X433122. Epub 2009 Apr 11.

'It's a boy because he's painting a picture': age differences in children's conventional and unconventional gender schemas.

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  • 1Kingston University, Kingston, Surrey, UK.


Two studies investigated the development of children's gender knowledge using a procedure designed to tap into children's unconventional gender beliefs. Study 1 revealed a developmental progression with 34 3- to 4-year-old children providing more unconventional reasons than conventional reasons to explain the gender of a series of drawings. By contrast, 39 5- to 6-year-old and 42 7- to 8-year-old children provided more conventional than unconventional reasons. Study 2 found that a second sample of 42 3- to 4-year-old children mastered a close-ended assessment of gender stereotyping, while they relied on unconventional and conventional reasoning equally when explaining the gender of a series of drawings displaying conventional cues only. This research supports the model that children's conventional gender schemas do not develop before their unconventional gender schemas.

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