Development of sex role perceptions in children

Carol Houde


A comprehensive literature review examines a wide variety of topics concerned with sex role formation as a means of determining the relative contributions of biologic and social forces. The fundamental nature of the gender variable is noted and an analysis is conducted of factors which contribute to sex role formation from birth to adulthood. These factors include the home environment, the educational system and other socializing influences. Differences between socioeconomic classes and cross-cultural variations are also discussed. Research was conducted to assess maturational changes in two aspects of sex role formation: the degree to which subjects' sex roles conform to social stereotypic norms, and the rigidity of each of the two roles. Results show that each sex is most aware of the social expectations contained in their own role stereotype. Also noted is that stereotype rigidity increases linearly over age. Both of these results support the social basis of sex role stereotypes.