The Heroes and the Helpless: The Development of Benevolent Sexism in Children

AbstractGender-stereotypical attitudes that males should be the protectors and that females need special care as the more delicate gender may reflect foundational components of benevolent sexism; however, children ’s attitudes regarding these roles have yet to be explored. The current study interviewed 113 U.S. children ages 3–11 years-old, presenting scenarios asking who should come to the rescue and who should receive special care (e.g., when tired or hurt). Results indicated that boys, across ages, b elieved that boys should be the heroes. Girls and boys selected their own gender to receive special care for physical needs, although these biases decreased with age. These findings suggest that stereotypical attitudes regarding roles for one’s own gender may be present in early childhood, but att itudes regarding roles for the other gender may develop later. Benevolent sexist attitudes related to protective paternalism may emerge younger than previously thought. We discuss possible implications for later help-seeking behaviors, dependency, and support for gender equality.
Source: Sex Roles - Category: International Medicine & Public Health Source Type: research

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