There has been much controversy over the past decades on the origins of gender differences in children's aggressive behavior. A widely held view is that gender differences emerge sometime after 2 years of age and increase in magnitude thereafter because of gender-differentiated socialization practices. The objective of this study was to test for (a) gender differences in the prevalence of physical aggression in the general population of 17-month-old children and (b) change in the magnitude of these differences between 17 and 29 months of age. Contrary to the differential socialization hypothesis, the results showed substantial gender differences in the prevalence of physical aggression at 17 months of age, with 5% of boys but only 1% of girls manifesting physically aggressive behaviors on a frequent basis. The results suggest that there is no change in the magnitude of these differences between 17 and 29 months of age.
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