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Age (years)

Figure 13.7 Same-sex preference of high rigid versus low rigid girls and boys between 5 and 10.

rigid children would start with a higher level of sex-typed preferences and would then show an earlier decrease in this behavior. In contrast, we did not expect differences between children who reached high versus low levels of rigidity at their peak.

For same-sex preferences, an interaction effect emerged between sex of participant and level of peak rigidity, F(1, 60) = 5.05, p < .03. As shown in Figure 13.7, high rigid boys surpassed low rigid boys in preferences during all years of the study, but especially in the first 3 years. Yet, there was little difference between high and low rigid girls during the first 3 years. During ages 8 to 10, though, high rigid girls tended to show less same-sex preferences when compared to low rigid girls. These data suggest once again that girls are less likely than boys to follow their ideas regarding gender norms.

The ANOVA conducted on opposite-sex avoidance revealed two- and three-way interaction effects. As expected, early rigid boys show a higher level of avoidance from the beginning when compared to late rigid boys (see Figure 13.8). In contrast to predictions, however, this difference continues across all ages, though it tends to become somewhat smaller up until both groups show a decrease in avoidance at age 10. Girls' avoidance trends show more support for our predictions. Compared to late rigid girls, early rigid girls display higher opposite-sex avoidance only until age 8. At this point, the avoidance of early rigid girls begins to decline and their avoidance is surpassed by the late rigid girls for the following 2 years. Taken together, it seems that boys may be more affected by their level of peak rigidity, whereas girls may be more influenced by the timing of their peak rigidity.

In summary, the analyses conducted in this study support the idea that stereotype knowledge and sex-typed preferences are related dimensions of gender development. In fact, this relationship is most likely to be detected as children are consolidating their knowledge of gender stereotypes (e.g., 5 to 7 years). As found in previous studies though (e.g., Aubry et al., 1999), boys seem generally more affected by their understanding of gender norms when compared to girls. Boys' knowledge of stereotypes was related concurrently to their choices at age 5 and 10, and predicted their same-sex preferences after a lag of 1 and 2 years. Girls, however, showed only weak concurrent relations and no lagged effects where knowledge predicted preferences.

Yet, a main goal of this study was to assess whether the relationship between knowledge and preferences depended on how rigidly children applied their understanding of gender norms. The results

Figure 13.7 Same-sex preference of high rigid versus low rigid girls and boys between 5 and 10.

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