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Running head: INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
1
Effect of Infant?s Perceived Gender on Adolescents? Ratings of the Infant
Douglas Degelman, Veronika Dvorak, and Julie Ann Homutoff
Vanguard University of Southern California
Author Note
Douglas Degelman, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern
California; Veronika Dvorak, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern
California; Julie Ann Homutoff, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern
California.
An original research proposal by Julie Ann Homutoff has been edited and adapted by
Douglas Degelman to illustrate basic elements of a research proposal.
Correspondence concerning this proposal should be addressed to Douglas Degelman,
Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
E-mail: ddegelman@vanguard.edu
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
2
Abstract
The role of the perceived gender of an infant and the gender of adolescents on ratings of the
infant will be explored. Thirty-six junior high students (18 boys and 18 girls) will view a photo
of a 3-month-old infant. Students will be told the infant?s name is either ?Larry,? ?Laurie,? or
they will not be told the infant?s name. Each student will rate the infant on 6 bipolar adjective
scales (firm/soft, big/little, strong/weak, hardy/delicate, well coordinated/awkward, and
beautiful/plain). It is predicted that both the name assigned to the infant and the students? gender
will affect ratings. Implications of the results for parenting and for future research will be
discussed.
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
3
Effect of Infant?s Perceived Gender on Adolescents? Ratings of the Infant
Many researchers agree that gender role socialization begins at the time of an infant?s birth
(Haugh, Hoffman, & Cowan, 1980; Honig, 1983). Most parents are extremely interested in
learning whether their newborn infant is a boy or a girl, and intentionally or not, this knowledge
elicits in them a set of expectations about sex role appropriate traits (Rubin, Provenzano, &
Luria, 1974). Empirical research suggests that these initial expectations, which form the basis of
gender schemas (Leone & Robertson, 1989), can have a powerful impact on parents? perceptions
of and behavior toward infants (Fagot, 1978; Lewis, 1972). Gender contributes to the initial
context within which adults respond to an infant and may become an influential agent in the
socializing process and the development of the child?s sense of self (Berndt & Heller, 1986).
Stereotyped expectations may influence gender role socialization and the acquisition of
sex-typed behavior through a self-fulfilling prophecy process (Darley & Fazio, 1980).
Preconceived gender-based expectations may cause the parent to elicit expected behavior from
the infant and to reinforce expected behavior when it occurs; this would confirm the parents?
initial expectations.
Several studies (Condry & Condry, 1976; Culp, Cook, & Housley, 1983; Delk, Madden,
Livingston, & Ryan, 1986; Rubin et al., 1974) have explored the effects of infant gender on adult
assignment of sex-typed labels and have demonstrated that adults sex-type infants. These studies
have examined a variety of subject populations and included infants of varying ages. Parents in
one study, for example, were asked to rate and describe their newborns shortly after birth when
the primary source of information about the baby was his or her gender (Rubin et al., 1974).
Although the infants did not differ on any objective measures, girls were rated as smaller, softer,
more fine-featured, and more inattentive than boys. Other studies have revealed that parents
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
4
treat male and female infants differently. Culp et al. (1983) found that both male and female
parents behave differently toward unfamiliar infants on the basis of perceived sex. This study
suggests that adults are inclined to perceive traits in an infant that are consistent with an infants?
gender label. Also, Fagot (1978) observed that parents of toddlers reacted differently to boys?
and girls? behavior. Parents responded more positively to girls than boys when the toddlers
played with dolls, and more critically to girls than boys when the toddlers engaged in large motor
activity.
As a group, these studies suggest that adult responses coincide with culturally specified sex
stereotypes associated with the gender label assigned to an infant and independent of actual
infant gender differences. These studies have addressed how both perceptions and behaviors
might be affected by expectations associated with the gender label assigned to the infant.
Although many studies have examined sex stereotyping of infants by adults, particularly
parents, very few studies have examined children?s or adolescents? sex-typing of infants (Haugh
et al., 1980; Vogel, Lake, Evans, & Karraker, 1991). Stern and Karraker (1989) reviewed
available studies of sex-biased perceptions of infants who were labeled either male or female,
and concluded that adults? perceptions often are not influenced by knowledge of an infant?s sex;
however, young children were found to rate infants in a sex-stereotyped fashion much more
frequently than were adults. None of the studies included in the review examined sex
stereotyping of infants by older children and adolescents. One question motivating this study,
therefore, was how sex-stereotyped perceptions of infants change during the early adolescent
period, particularly junior high (middle school) age.
Although few studies have investigated adolescents? sex-stereotyped perception of infants,
a number of studies have examined adolescents? sex stereotyping of older individuals. Many of
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
5
these studies, using varied methods, have found that sex stereotyping increases with age between
3 and 14 years (Berndt & Heller, 1986; Martin, 1987; Scanzoni & Fox, 1980; Skrypnek &
Snyder, 1982). Some studies have found a curvilinear relationship between age and sex
stereotyping, with younger subjects and adolescents using sex stereotypes less than other
children (Stern & Karraker, 1989). However, most of these studies suggest a consistent increase
in sex stereotyping from preschool through middle childhood, a plateau, and then a decrease
through adolescence.
The purpose of this present study is to systematically examine the effects of gender of
adolescents and infants? perceived gender, and their interaction, on adolescents? ratings toward
the infant. Several studies suggest that differences in the ratings of a perceived male or
perceived female infant are a function of the actual gender of the observer (Condry & Condry,
1976; Vogel et al., 1991). Girls tend to rate infants as more beautiful than boys do, when there is
a choice between the adjectives of plain and beautiful. Also, older women, particularly mothers,
tend to give more positive ratings than other subjects (Bell & Carver, 1980).
Participants for the present study will be selected to represent the adolescent age period
(12-14 -year-olds). Consistent with the findings of Haugh et al. (1980) and the studies reviewed
here, it is expected that the act of labeling infants with gender-typed first names will elicit
responses of learned attributes associated with gender-category labels. Any stimulus that elicits
the gender category, such as a ?genderized? first name or designation as ?male? or ?female? will
elicit a potentially broad set of associated attributes. The prediction is that if adolescents are
given minimal information about an infant, adolescents will use sex-related cues (i.e., name of
infant) to make evaluations about the infant. The second hypothesis is that males and females
will rate the perceived infant differently regardless of the name assigned to the infant. The last
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
6
hypothesis is that the effect of the infants? perceived gender will depend on the adolescents?
gender (an interaction effect).
Method
Participants
Thirty-six junior high students (12-14-year-olds) attending a public school in West Covina,
California will be used as participants. The students are a part of a leadership class. The school
is located in a predominantly middle-lower class neighborhood. Informed consent will be
obtained from parents or legal guardians, and an incentive will be used so that students will be
motivated to get their informed consent papers signed.
Design
This study can be considered a 2 (gender of the adolescent) X 3 (infant name condition)
between-subjects factorial design, because there are two independent variables. The gender of
the adolescents has two levels, male or female, and the infant name condition has three levels:
Laurie, Larry, and the control condition. The dependent measures are the adolescents? ratings of
the infant on each of the six bipolar adjectives.
Materials
A color image (see Figure 1) of a 3-month-old infant will be used for all the conditions.
The infant?s image will be photocopied on 21.6 X 27.9 cm paper. Several sex-typed adjectives
(see Figure 1) will appear on the paper with the infant?s pictures. Six bipolar adjective pairs
(firm/soft, big/little, strong/weak, hardy/delicate, well coordinated/awkward, and beautiful/plain)
were chosen for this study based on previous studies that used similar adjectives (Haugh et al.,
1980; Rubin et al., 1974; Stern & Karraker, 1989; Vogel et al., 1991). All materials are exactly
the same except for in each condition, the first name of the infant changes. In one condition the
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
7
infant will be assigned a gender-typed first name of Laurie, in another condition the infant will
be assigned a gender-typed first name of Larry, and in the control condition the infant will not be
assigned a first name. The phrase ?this infant? will be used instead of a name.
Procedure
Twelve adolescents in the leadership class will be randomly assigned to each of the three
infant gender-typed name conditions. The gender of the students will be balanced in the
conditions. Students will be tested in groups on three consecutive days. Students and parents
will be told that the studies purpose is to see how an infant?s traits can be detected from their
physical appearance.
Each group will be tested on a separate day. On that day, students will be told of the
importance of not telling other potential subjects about the details of the study. They will also
told that they will be given the results and the purpose of the study when all the research has
been collected.
All students will be tested in the same classroom using study carrels, to block their views
from one another. They will be asked to not make noise or distract each other in anyway. The
materials will be passed out to each student. The directions will be read out loud in a neutral
tone. The same directions will be given to every group. Students will be told that there are no
right or wrong answers and that answers should be based on their opinions. Any questions will
be answered before the students begin rating the materials. After each student is finished and the
materials are collected, the student will be thanked for participating in the research.
Results
The six pairs of bipolar adjectives will be rated by the adolescents in each condition of the
independent variable. The resulting possible range of values is 1-5. For example, students have
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
8
to rate an infant on the bipolar adjective pair ?firm? and ?soft,? ?1? meaning more firm and ?5?
meaning more soft. Scores on each of the bipolar adjectives will be analyzed. The mean and
standard deviation for each condition of the independent variable will be obtained. These are the
descriptive statistics.
The inferential statistical procedures that will be performed are the two-way, betweensubjects ANOVA and Tukey?s HSD, to see which groups are significantly different.
Discussion
The results of this study will be restated and evaluated in light of the initial hypotheses. If
the results are as predicted, the generality of sex-stereotyped perceptions of infants will be
extended to the population of adolescents. How the results relate to previous research and to the
theoretical issues discussed in the introduction will also be discussed. Practical implications of
the results for parenting will also be considered.
Limitations of the current research will be identified, along with suggestions for how future
research can build upon the findings of the current study. One limitation to the generalizability
of the findings is the use of only one photograph of one infant of a particular age. Future
research could utilize photographs of infants of a variety of ages to establish the robustness of the
results of the present study. Finally, the results and importance of this study will be summarized.
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
9
References
Bell, N. J., & Carver, W. (1980). A reevaluation of gender label effects: Expectant mothers?
responses to infants. Child Development, 51, 925-927. doi:10.2307/1129489
Berndt, T. J., & Heller, K. A. (1986). Gender stereotypes and social inferences: A
developmental study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 889-898.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.50.5.889
Condry, J., & Condry, S. (1976). Sex differences: A study of the eye of the beholder. Child
Development, 47, 812-819.
Culp, R. E., Cook, A. S., & Housley, P. C. (1983). A comparison of observed and reported adultinfant interactions: Effects of perceived sex. Sex Roles, 9, 475-479.
doi:10.1007/BF00289787
Darley, J. M., & Fazio, R. H. (1980). Expectancy confirmation processes arising in the social
interaction sequence. American Psychologist, 35, 867-881. doi:10.1037/0003066X.35.10.867
Delk, J. L., Madden, R. B., Livingston, M., & Ryan, T. T. (1986). Adult perceptions of the infant
as a function of gender labeling and observer gender. Sex Roles, 15, 527-534.
doi:10.1007/BF00288229
Fagot, B. I. (1978). The influences of sex of child on parental reactions to toddler children. Child
Development, 49, 459-465. doi:10.2307/1128711
Haugh, S. S., Hoffman, C. D., & Cowan, G. (1980). The eye of the very young beholder: Sex
typing of infants by young children. Child Development, 51, 598-600. doi:10.2307/1129302
Honig, A. S. (1983). Sex role socialization in early childhood. Young Children, 38, 57-70.
Leone, C., & Robertson, K. (1989). Some effects of sex-linked clothing and gender schema on
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
the stereotyping of infants. The Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 609-619.
Lewis, M. (1972). State as an infant-environment interaction: An analysis of mother-infant
interaction as a function of sex. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 18, 95-121.
Martin, C. L. (1987). A ratio measure of sex stereotyping. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 52, 489-499. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.52.3.489
Rubin, J. Z., Provenzano, F. J., & Luria, Z. (1974). The eye of the beholder: Parents? views on
sex of newborns. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 44, 512-519.
Scanzoni, J., & Fox, G. L. (1980). Sex roles, family and society: The seventies and beyond.
Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 743-756. doi:10.2307/351822
Skrypnek, B. J., & Snyder, M. (1982). On the self-perpetuating nature of stereotypes about
women and men. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18, 277-291.
doi:10.1016/0022-1031(82)90054-3
Stern, M., & Karraker, K. H. (1989). Sex stereotyping of infants: A review of gender labeling
studies. Sex Roles, 20, 501-522. doi:10.1007/BF00288198
Vogel, D. A., Lake, M. A., Evans, S., & Karraker, K. H. (1991). Children?s and adults? sexstereotyped perception of infants. Sex Roles, 24, 605-616. doi:10.1007/BF00288417
10
INFANT?S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS? RATINGS
11
Please rate the infant [Laurie, Larry, no name] on each of the following items, placing a mark in
the space nearest the adjective you feel best describes the infant.
firm:__:__:__:__:__:soft
big:__:__:__:__:__:little
strong:__:__:__:__:__:weak
hardy:__:__:__:__:__:delicate
well-coordinated:__:__:__:__:__:awkward
beautiful:__:__:__:__:__:plain
Figure 1. JPEG image of infant and bipolar adjectives rating scale.
Quick Reference
The recommendations in this guide are based on the 6th edition (2009) of the
APA Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. For more
in-depth explanation of formatting and preparing works cited lists, please
consult the 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
Title Page Layout (APA 41)
Unless you receive other instruction, the first page of your paper is a title page. The following are included
on the title page:
?
?
?
?
?
?
Running head
Page number
Title
Author?s name
? First name, middle initial, last name
? Multiple authors
? Each name should appear on a separate line
Institutional affiliation
Course title and number followed by date the paper is submitted
The APA Manual does not give explicit instruction for the title page of a class paper. The contents and
placement of items on the sample title page are adapted from APA instructions for the title page of a paper
submitted for publication. (APA, 41).
APA 6th Ed. Guide v.3 – © 2013 Cardinal Stritch University Library
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Formatting
th
EXAMPLE TITLE PAGE
1
The words
?Running head?
only appear on
title page.
Page
Number
1
!
NOTE
Running head: CLINICAL DECISION-MAKING
1
1
1
Clinical Decision-Making: Determining Severity
of Child Language Impairment
Jane Q. Public
Cardinal Stritch University
Course Title 362
April 1, 2010
Font & Spacing
Times New Roman
12 Point Font ONLY.
Lines are
Double Spaced.
See APA page 41 for further information
APA 6th Ed. Guide v.3 – © 2013 Cardinal Stritch University Library
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Formatting
th
First Page Layout (APA 42-48)
EXAMPLE: First page of a research paper
Page
Number
1
Shortened version of
title appearing on
every page.
1
Running head
1
2
CLINICAL DECISION-MAKING
1
1/2? Indent
Clinical Decision-Making: Determining Severity of
1
Child Language Impairment
A diagnosis of language impairment in a child is
1/2? indent
begins each
paragraph.
frequently followed by another integral component of the
Font & Spacing
assessment process, the determination of severity. Severity
Times New Roman
12 Point Font ONLY.
Lines are
Double Spaced.
designations are often based on the magnitude of the linguistic
deficit present. In addition, clinicians? severity determinations
are typically categorical in nature, with children classified as
exhibiting mild, moderate or severe language impairment.
See APA pages 42-48 for further information
In-text Citations
References to sources are included
in the paper using parenthetical
in-text citations.
APA 6th Ed. Guide v.3 – © 2013 Cardinal Stritch University Library
!
NOTE
xt E
Te PL
In AM
EX
!
NOTE
Examples of
parenthetical references
are contained in green boxes.
3
6
Formatting
th
Reference Page Layout (APA 49)
EXAMPLE: Reference page
References start
on a new page.
1
1
!
NOTE
26
CLINICAL DECISION-MAKING
1
1
References
1/2? Indent
1
Ballantyne, A., Spilkin, A., & Trauner, D. (2007). The revision
decision: Is change always good? A comparison of CELF-R
and CELF-3 test scores in children with language impairment,
focal brain damage, and typical development. Language,
Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38(3), 182-189.
!
NOnceTs aEre ordeyred
Refere habetically b e.
alp ?s surnam
author
Millitant, D. (2006). Read aloud versus shared reading: The effects on
vocabulary acquisition, comp …
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