We assessed developmental and gender differences in children’s beliefs about their peers’ communication styles. We hypothesized that children hold more favorable beliefs (i.e., more responsiveness and less interruption) about communicating with same-gender peers than with other-gender peers. We also explored whether these beliefs related to children’s friendships and expectations that they will feel included or discomfort with their peers. Participants (n = 311) were 159 U.S. third-graders (Mage = 7.13, SD = .49, 52% girls) and 152 U.S. fifth-graders (Mage = 9.08, SD = .71, 46% girls). Children showed in-group biases: They expected more positive responses when communicating with same-gender versus other-gender peers. These patterns were stronger in girls and younger children. Beliefs about interruption varied by gender: girls expected girls to interrupt less than boys, and boys thought boys and girls interrupt equally often. Finally, the more children believed that they would receive positive communication responsiveness, the more friends, the more inclusion, and the less discomfort they expected with same- and other-gender peers. The more they expected interruptions, the less included and more discomfort they reported. The results suggest that children’s communication beliefs may perpetuate same-gender preferences; however, promoting mixed-gender interactions may help children cultivate beliefs and skills needed to function successfully in mixed-gender contexts.
- In-group bias
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology