Widespread gender segregation, evident throughout elementary school, seems to imply that girls and boys have negative feelings and thoughts about one another, and classic theories of inter-group processes support this idea. However, research has generally overlooked children's feelings and perceptions about gender-related interpersonal interactions. This paper investigates the nature of children's attitudes about same- and other-gender peers, and explores how those attitudes relate to the expectancies and beliefs children hold about same- and other-gender peer interactions. Children (N= 98 fifth graders) completed questionnaires assessing their global liking of own- and other-gender peers (Yee & Brown, 1994), positive and negative attitudes about own- and other-gender peers, and outcome expectancies related to interacting with own- and other-gender peers. Results indicated that rather than being characterized by out-group negativity, children's inter-group gender attitudes are best characterized by an in-group positivity bias. Children's positive and negative affective attitudes were also significantly associated with outcome expectancies. In contrast, global liking of own- and other-gender peers was less predictive of outcome expectancies. Thus, the greater specificity of the affective attitude measures appeared to be a more predictive and potentially fruitful gauge of children's feelings about own- and other-gender peers. Results are discussed in terms of the need for finer grained and more extensive studies of children's gender-related feelings and cognitions about own- and other-gender peers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience