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Academic Programs and Concentrations
Project Advisor 1
Since Sandra Bem’s introduction of Gender Schema Theory (GST), researchers have analyzed how gender schemas influence children’s information processing (Signorella, Bigler, & Liben, 1993; Welch-Ross & Schmidt, 1996). These studies, however, tested schema processing using familiar gender-atypical information (e.g., “only boys play with dolls”) instead of novel gender-atypical information (e.g., “only girls play with xylophones”). The present study seeks to fill this gap in the research by using novel gender-atypical information in order to test the extent to which children’s schemas influence their information processing. First, I tested children’s memory and preference for two picture books, one with a female main character and one with a male main character. These books included the character playing with novel gender-atypical and familiar gender-typical items. Second, I tested if boys and girls had dissimilar levels of gender stereotype knowledge (measured by a card sorting task based on Leinbach, Hort & Fagot, 1997). My first hypothesis was that children would have better memory for gender-typical than gender-atypical information. My second hypothesis was that children’s memory would be correlated with their scores on the sorting task. Finally, I hypothesized that children would prefer stories starring a protagonist of their own gender. My results did not support the idea that gender schemas are biasing children’s information processing. Limitations of my study include small sample size, more female than male participants, and the possible influences of children’s environment on their card sorting. Finally, I consider future research on the influences media has on children’s gender stereotypes.
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Sullivan, Abigail Lee, "“Only girls play with those”: An Analysis of Preschoolers’ Gender Schema Development through Gender Stereotype Knowledge and Recognition of Gendered Information" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 94.
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