Gender Constancy and the Effects of Sex-Typed Televised Toy Commercials

Child Dev. 1981 Jun;52(2):667-73.


The present study represented a cognitive-developmental analysis of the effects of televised, sex-stereotypic information on children's behavior and attitudes toward toy play. The subjects were 50 male and 50 female 4-6-year-olds divided into high and low gender-constancy levels. As the children watched a cartoon, they either saw a commercial of a gender-neutral toy that showed 2 boys or 2 girls playing with the toy, or they saw no commercial (control). As predicted, only the high gender-constant children were differentially affected by the sex-role information in the different commercial conditions. Children at this stage who saw opposite-sex children playing with the toy avoided spending time with the toy and stated verbally that the toy was more appropriate for an opposite-sex sibling, relative to children in the 2 other conditions. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for theories of sex-role development and in terms of the role that television may play in maintaining sex stereotypes and sex-typed behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Television*