The present study investigated the associations among gender, gender-typed behavior, and peer preference in 54 Year 5 (9–10 year-old) children in the United Kingdom. Children completed self-reports about their gendered behavior, nominated friends, and participated in a one-on-one interview regarding their preference and non-preference for hypothetical classmates. Results indicated that children were similar to their friends in terms of gender and engagement in gender-typed activities. Regarding potential classmates, the gender nonconforming boy was the most at risk for peer rejection. Students preferred the gender conforming boy and gender nonconforming girl—most often citing masculine activities as reasons why they liked the potential classmate, and feminine activities as reasons why they did not like the potential classmate. Results suggest that feminine activities are devalued in current society, even for girls. Children’s own engagement in gendered activities was also associated with their choice of potential classmate. These results are interpreted in line with social constructionist, social dominance, and hegemonic masculinity theories of gender development and socialization. Knowledge about these patterns of preference and non-preference will help teachers identify students at risk for rejection, enabling them to work proactively to create a positive social environment.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 4, 2016
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