The role of sex of peers and gender-typed activities in young children's peer affiliative networks: a longitudinal analysis of selection and influence

Child Dev. May-Jun 2013;84(3):921-37. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12032. Epub 2012 Dec 17.


A stochastic actor-based model was used to investigate the origins of sex segregation by examining how similarity in sex of peers and time spent in gender-typed activities affected affiliation network selection and how peers influenced children's (N = 292; Mage = 4.3 years) activity involvement. Gender had powerful effects on interactions through direct and indirect pathways. Children selected playmates of the same sex and with similar levels of gender-typed activities. Selection based on gender-typed activities partially mediated selection based on sex of peers. Children influenced one another's engagement in gender-typed activities. When mechanisms producing sex segregation were compared, the largest contributor was selection based on sex of peers; less was due to activity-based selection and peer influence. Implications for sex segregation and gender development are discussed.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Peer Group*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Networking
  • Socialization*