Peak Rigidity Age Groups

To detect whether same-sex and opposite sex preferences change as a function of stereotype rigidity, children's preference scores were charted before and after their age of peak rigidity. Figure 13.5 displays the same-sex preference trends for girls and boys. In contrast to the flat preference trends observed when children were grouped according to chronological age, there appear to be clear developmental changes in children's same-sex preferences in relation to the degree to which they rigidly apply their stereotype knowledge. Boys' same-sex preferences increase up until the point at which they reach their maximum level of rigidity and then their preferences tend to remain stable. This association between stereotype rigidity and preferences is less clear for girls. However, girls do show an increase in preferences for the 2 years before their age of peak rigidity. Overall, these patterns suggest that, at least for boys, same-sex preferences may develop at the same time as increasing rigidity of stereotyping.

Unlike their same-sex preferences, children's opposite-sex avoidance continues to increase past their age of peak rigidity (see Figure 13.6). While both girls and boys show an increase in avoidance during the 2 years before their age of peak rigidity, their avoidance scores continue to grow rather than level off. Mainly, boys' opposite-sex avoidance continues to increase 4 more years and girls' scores rise for an additional 2 years. Taken together, these findings suggest that changes in preferences occur in parallel with children's stereotype knowledge development. It is especially important to recognize that these apparent associations were missed when we relied on the examination of chronological age trends.

Finding Your Confidence

Finding Your Confidence

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