Baby girls make a beeline for dolls as soon as they can crawl – and boys will head for the toy cars
Baby girls make a beeline for dolls as soon as they can crawl – and boys will head for the toy cars, a study has shown. With no prompting, they will choose the stereotypical toys for their gender.
The findings – the first to show consistent differences in very young babies – suggest there is a biological basis to their preferences.
This indicates that ‘politically correct’ efforts to steer children towards things they wouldn’t normally play with are doomed to failure.
Psychologists Dr Brenda Todd and Sara Amalie O’Toole Thommessen from City University London carried out an experiment involving 90 infants aged nine months to 36 months.
The babies were allowed to choose from seven toys. Some were stereotypically boys’ toys – a car, a digger, a ball and a blue teddy.
The rest were stereotypically girl toys: a pink teddy, a doll and a cooking set.
The infants were placed a metre away from the toys, and could pick which ever they pleased.
Their choice, and the amount of time they spent playing with each toy was recorded.
Of the youngest children (nine to 14 months), girls spent significantly longer playing with the doll than boys, and boys spent much more time with the car and ball than the girls did.
Among the two and three-year-olds, girls spent 50 per cent of the time playing with the doll while only two boys briefly touched it.
The boys spent almost 90 per cent of their time playing with cars, which the girls barely touched.
There was no link between the parents’ views on which toys were more appropriate for boys or girls, and the children’s choices.
The researchers presented their study yesterday at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Stratford on Avon.
Dr Brenda Todd said: ‘Children of this age are already subject to a great deal of socialisation. Boys may be given “toys that go” while girls get toys they can nurture which may help shape their preferences.
But these findings are consistent with the idea of an intrinsic bias in children to show interest in particular kinds of toys.
‘There could be a biological basis for their choices. Males through evolution have been adapted to prefer moving objects, probably through hunting instincts, while girls prefer warmer colours such as pink, the colour of a newborn baby.’
Via Daily Mail