Week9_Condry&Condry_1976 - Sex Differences: A Study...

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Sex Differences: A Study of the Eye of the Beholder John Condry and Sandra Condry Corrwll University CONDRY, JOHN, and CONDRY, SANDRA. Sex Differences: A Study of the Eye of the Beholder. CHILD DEVELOPMENT, 1976, 47, 812-819. In an attempt to assess the effects of labeling on socially mediated sex differences in infancy, 204 male and female subjects rated the same infent's emotional responses to 4 different arousing stimuli: half of the subjects were told they were observing a "boy" and the other half, a "girl" The same infant in a particular situation was seen as displaying different emotions and significantly different levels of emotional arousal depending on the sex attributed to the infant, the sex of the rater, and the rater's experience with young children. The results suggest a healthy caution be exercised in interpret- ing studies of sex differences obtained by observers who know the sex of the child being rated. The fact that we often see that which we ex- pect to see is sufficiently well known and accepted to be accorded the status of a cliche. But follow the logic one step further: we usually act on what we think we see, and when those actions are directed toward another person, they affect the other per- son in a variety of ways. When our actions are directed toward children, the picture is compli- cated even more. Children often search for an an- swer to how they should behave by watching the ways adults act toward them. Thus the actions of adults, directed toward children, acquire a re- ality-defining quality. A parent who expects his child to dislike mushrooms can act toward the child in such a way as to bring about the very dislike he expects. A mother who expects her daughter to fear mice can interpret the child's first startled reaction to mice as fear and act accord- ingly, thus defining the emotion and the subse- quent appropriate action for the child (Schachter & Singer 1962). If the child responds to this defini- tion and it has social support, this socially trans- mitted characteristic may become part of that child's common behavior repertoire. One area where a "label" could have significant effects is that of sex differences (Maccoby Jacklin 1974), and so we have chosen to apply our analysis to this topic. Could adults be encouraging sex differences in just such a manner? Sex diflPerences among infants and young children are found by many researchers. We know that girl infants show a fear of strangers at a younger age than do boy infants (Robson, Peder- son, Moss 1969) and at 2 years and later girls show more intense fear than do boys to fear- provoking stimuli (Jersild Holmes 1935). Tod- dler girls display a higher language competence than do toddler boys (Clarke-Stewart 1973); the same is true at 2y2 years of age (Bell, Weller, Waldrop 1971). One-year-old boys play more vig- orously than do girls (Goldberg Lewis 1969) and from 2 to 4 years they engage in more rough and tumble play (Smith Connolly 1972). Boys
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2009 for the course HD 2610 taught by Professor Mikels,j. during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Week9_Condry&Condry_1976 - Sex Differences: A Study...

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