Experimental Effects Of Gender Knowledge On Behavior

So far, we have been concerned with correlational studies that have examined the relationship between knowledge and preferences. This research presents only part of the picture that represents our current understanding of the role of gender knowledge in children's behaviors. A series of experimental studies that have been mainly conducted in the 1970s and 1980s allows us to draw further conclusions regarding the predictions made by cognitive theories of gender development. Surprisingly, these studies have only recently been used as essential pieces of evidence in the debate regarding the cognitive underpinnings of gender development (see Martin et al., 2002; Martin & Dinella, 2002). Therefore, we chose to review this research here to provide a more complete analysis of the proposed influence of gender stereotypes on children's choices and behaviors. Moreover, revisiting this literature has also led us to draw some novel conclusions and questions that are relevant for a contemporary view of gender development.

The experimental design that has been used to study the influence of gender stereotypes has mostly involved manipulating the gender labels applied to novel toys and activities. This approach to the issue has offered some advantages over correlational and more naturalistic techniques. For example, the

TABLE 13.1 Gender Labeling Studies
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