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Child Dev. 1985 Feb;56(1):225-33.

Sex and aggression: the influence of gender label on the perception of aggression in children.


To investigate the influence of gender label on adults' perceptions of aggression in children, a videotape of 2 preschool children playing roughly in the snow was shown to 175 college students (139 females, 36 males) who were asked to judge the degree of aggression displayed by 1 of the children (the target child). In the videotape, the children's snowsuits disguised their actual gender, and 4 experimental conditions were created by varying the gender label of both the target and the other (nonrated) child. Hence, the 4 conditions consisted of all possible combinations of gender; boy-boy, boy-girl, girl-boy, and girl-girl. All subjects viewed the same film; only the gender labels used to describe the children varied. Subjects' aggression ratings of the target child varied significantly as a function of the gender label attributed to both the target and the nonrated child. Specifically, the boy-boy condition was rated as significantly less aggressive than the other 3 conditions, which did not differ in level of perceived aggression. This effect was particularly strong among subjects with more experience with children. The results have interesting implications for understanding the process of social category perception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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