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Child Dev. 2010 Nov-Dec;81(6):1787-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01510.x.

Differing levels of gender salience in preschool classrooms: effects on children's gender attitudes and intergroup bias.

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1
Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. hilliard@psu.edu

Abstract

Developmental intergroup theory posits that when environments make social-group membership salient, children will be particularly likely to apply categorization processes to social groups, thereby increasing stereotypes and prejudices. To test the predicted impact of environmental gender salience, 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 57) completed gender attitude, intergroup bias, and personal preference measures at the beginning and end of a 2-week period during which teachers either did or did not make gender salient. Observations of peer play were also made at both times. After 2 weeks, children in the high- (but not low-) salience condition showed significantly increased gender stereotypes, less positive ratings of other-sex peers, and decreased play with other-sex peers. Children's own activity and occupational preferences, however, remained unaffected.

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