Young Children’s Use of Gender for Inductive Generalizations about Biological and Behavioral Characteristics: The Influence of Gender Categories and Gender Stereotypes

  •  Bradford H. Pillow    
  •  Cara Allen    
  •  Natalie Low    
  •  Taneisha Vilma    


Using a triad inductive reasoning task, we examined the influence of gender category information, gender stereotypes, and gender salience on young children’s (N = 72; 36 to 69 months of age) generalizations concerning novel biological and behavioral characteristics. Prior to the inductive generalization task, children heard vignettes in which a teacher either engaged in gender stereotyping (Stereotype condition), grouped children according to gender (Salience condition), or grouped children in a gender-neutral manner (Neutral condition). Children generalized on the basis of gender more often in the Stereotype condition than in the Neutral condition, but older children made gender-based inductions at above chance levels in the Neutral condition and for behavioral traits in the Salience condition. Stereotyping influenced gender-based reasoning, but did not appear to be necessary among older preschool children.

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