In the present study, we examined gender-based social cognitions (i.e., global liking and trait attributions) related to observed dyadic peer interactions with same- and other-gender peers in a sample of young children from a large city in central Italy (N = 151; M age = 56.54 months). A multi-method procedure was used including observations of naturally occurring peer interactions and child reports of gender cognitions. Results showed that children interacted more in same-gender dyads than in other-gender dyads (i.e., gender segregation) and viewed same-gender peers more positively than other-gender peers (i.e., gender bias). However, this ingroup bias was found to be stronger for girls than for boys. In addition, findings revealed that for girls only, global liking and positive attributions were related to observed peer dyadic interactions. Specifically, girls who reported higher liking towards same-gender peers were observed to interact more in same-gender dyads. Moreover, the more girls reported liking same-gender peers and the more they viewed them as having positive characteristics, the less girls interacted in other-gender dyads. This result was consistent with our hypothesis about the relationship between gender cognitions and children’s peer interactions. Overall, these findings extend knowledge about the development of gender biases as early as preschool age and the role of gender cognitions on social interactions among young children.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 14, 2015
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