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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The acquisition of gender stereotype component links Little, Jane Kathryn


Deaux and Lewis (1984) have proposed that stereotypes be viewed as linked components, each encompassing specific content domains (such as beliefs about appearance, preferences, occupations and traits). Each component has a masculine and a feminine version. Adults are able to use the stereotyped associative links between items in the same component and those between items in different components to make judgments about individuals' behaviors and characteristics based on minimal information. The present study examined the acquisition of these associative connections in the gender stereotypes of 6 to 10 year olds. Seventy-six children (38 boys, 38 girls), aged 6, 8 and 10 years, were asked to make a number of judgments about an individual's clothing, occupational aspirations, toy preferences, and personality traits based on a single piece of cue information (a masculine or feminine item from a component). The types of associative links that children could use in making of interpersonal judgments changed with age. The 6-year-old children were able to make stereotyped judgments about both masculine and feminine items within the same component but were only able to make between-component stereotyped judgments when items of their own-sex typing (i.e. masculine items for boys, feminine items for girls) were presented as cues. The older children were be able to make within- and between-component stereotypic judgments about both masculine and feminine items. The results supported the propositions of schematic-processing theory (Martin & Halverson, 1981) and demonstrated the value of the Deaux and Lewis (1984) component-link model as a heuristic for the study of complex cognitive structures.

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