Cross LaggedPanel Correlations

The relationships between children's stereotyped knowledge and preference scores were examined using cross-lagged-panel correlations. This type of analysis allows us to assess whether there are concurrent relationships between these two dimensions, or whether children's knowledge predicts preferences after a time lag. In addition, the stability of knowledge and preferences over time can also be explored. Given that stereotype knowledge develops during ages 5 to 7, we focused on these lagged relations, though relations with later years were also examined.8 In terms of the results for boys, same-sex preferences were reasonably stable across the first 3 years of the study (r = .38*-.58**), and preferences at age 5 were even correlated with preferences at age 10 (r = .41*). For opposite-sex avoidance, stability was found only between years 2 and 3 (r = .43*). In contrast, the nonsignificant auto-correlations for knowledge suggest that boys' understanding of stereotypes was not stable from 5 to 10. This observed instability is not surprising when considering that children's knowledge reaches ceiling levels between 5 and 7 and that there may have been differences in the timing of knowledge acquisition for boys at early ages. As expected, however, boys' knowledge of stereotypes at year 1 was associated with same-sex preferences at years 1 (r = .57**), 2 (r = .41*), and 3 (r = .47**). That is, both concurrent and lagged effects were found for knowledge predicting same-sex preferences, but not the reverse. Moreover, a concurrent relation was found at age 5 between knowledge and opposite-sex avoidance (r = .56**).

Unlike boys, girls' knowledge did not predict lagged preferences during the first 3 years. However, preferences and knowledge were reasonably stable, and concurrent relations were positive across this time period and significant for same-sex preferences at year 2 (r = .38*). In contrast to predictions then, girls' level of stereotype knowledge did not relate subsequently to preferences. Indeed, the one significant lag correlation was in the opposite direction and difficult to interpret: girls' low opposite-sex avoidance at age 5 predicted higher knowledge at age 7. Thus, consistent with Aubry et al. (1999), the present findings indicate that increasing knowledge of stereotypes in young children does influence subsequent same-sex preferences, but only for boys. Unlike the Aubry et al. (1999) study though, there were no significant lag predictions for opposite-sex avoidance for either boys or girls. It is noteworthy that the present analyses used a total knowledge score instead of separating same-sex and opposite-sex knowledge, which may have contributed to this difference.

The Polarity Path

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