Verity Pinter Humanities and Social Science
Gender stereotype knowledge and social causal attributions in young children
Intuitive theories that young children have about others behavior develop through exposure to patterns of covariation the degree to which two variables change together across time and situations as a child develops, incorporating new empirical evidence with prior knowledge. Over time and cultural exposure, children’s causal theories about other people’s behavior becomes biased toward culturally valued or relevant interpretations, resulting in culture-specific assumptions about patterns of behavior. Childrens understanding of and reliance on gender stereotypes influences their own sense of identity and social development. According to ever-present conventional gender stereotypes in Western societies, boys are generally seen to be more risk-taking and engage in more reckless behavior than girls. Very little research has investigated the influence of these socially conditioned stereotypes on the causal attributions that children make about their peers. For my senior honors thesis, I want to explore the relation between the rigidity of childrens gender stereotype knowledge at different ages and the attributions they make when presented with examples of behaviors that either support or contrast stereotypical gendered behaviors.