Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Miller, Asenath

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Child psychology; Sex role


The present study was an examination of the cognitive-developmental approach to sex-role development, as measured by toy preferences. Three classification tasks were used to assess the development of conceptual abilities, both physical and sex-role related. The first classification task was a free classification procedure involving circles and triangles, both large and small. The second free classification task used pictures of toys previously rated as to their sex-appropriateness. These pictures were mounted on two different background colors. The last classification task, which was given to the children after their preferences had been assessed, was more structured. Using the same stimuli as in the toy free classification task, children were asked to sort them into "boys" and "girls" toys. The findings indicated an increase in sex-appropriate preference and all classification skills with age. Boys had stronger sex-appropriate preferences than girls. The frequency of children at each age who could classify did not differ significantly among classification measures. Developmental level, as measured by classification patterns showed the same relationship to sex-appropriate preference as did age. In addition, boy/girl classification was related to sex-appropriate preference within sex and age groups. Children who had this skill had stronger sex-appropriate preferences. These findings were related to recent research and theoretical positions.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


58 pages




Northern Illinois University

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