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Differential Recall of Sex-Typed Material

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A number of various studies have been done relating to recall and preference of gender-typed materials in young children. Many of the studies done have found that subjects significantly recalled more of the same-sex objects then of the opposite-sex objects. In 1974 Nadelman (1974) that subjects were much more likely to recall same-sex items then opposite-sex items. She also found that boys were much more likely to follow this pattern then girls were. Soon thereafter Jennings (1975) did a study on gender-type recall and preference, only this time using stories as her independent variable. She had the subjects listen to the stories with either a same-sex or opposite-sex individual, the character in the story would either be acting in accurate or inaccurate behavior for the sex. She found that although the subjects preferred the stories where the characters were exhibiting accurate behavior, the subjects were more likely to recall the stories where the sex role was not accurate.

In 1986 Bradbard, Martin, Endsley and Halverson had groups of children (aged 4-9) explore objects in boxes that were sex labeled. One week later they tested the subjects as to information about the objects. Results showed that subjects were able to recall own-sex objects in much more detail then other-sex objects. Liben and Signorella (1993) continued Jennings research on gender-role recall by showing kindergarten through 3rd graders pictures of men and women in typical, atypical or neutral roles. Recall data revealed gender biases, showing that even at this age gender biases are being developed.

In 1993 Bauer assessed the recall of children aged 24-26 months, in situations depicting female-stereotyped, male-stereotyped and neutral activities. Girls showed no significant differences in how well they recalled the 3 sequences. Where as the boy showed much better recall of male stereotyped sequences over that of female stereotyped sequences. Gary D. Levy did a series of studies on gender-type recall. In 1994 he tested the ability of children ,44 to 81 months of age, to classify and recall gender-typed indoor and outdoor toys. As he expected, the subjects were more accurate at classifying and better at recalling same-sex items rather then other-sex items. Later that same year Levy did a study asking children to recall 4 gender scripts consisting of 8 events (2 of these being own-sex, 2 being other-sex). Subjects were much more likely to recall the own-sex scripts rather the other-sex scripts.

Early in 1995 Levy did another study testing the ability of children to recall related an unrelated item pairs. Boys were much more likely to be able to recall related gender typed items. Where as girls were much more likely to recall pairs of animal related items. Girls did show greater ability at recalling items from pairs of feminine items rather then masculine. In 1997 Signorella, Bigler and Liben did a meta-analysis to see if there was any relation between a childЃfs sex and memory for various items. There were obvious biases towards same-sex items. Conkright, Flannagan and Dykes (2000) ran a study comparing the use of he, she and they. They alternated the use of he and she to examine recall and gender interpretation of the stories. There was a greater instance of recall of stories containing she instead of he, as well as among girls and older children.

Based on these past studies the current study seeks to confirm the hypothesis that 1) Older children recall more items than younger children, 2) Boys recall more items than girls, 3) Masculine items are recalled more then feminine items, 4) Children remember same-sex items more then opposite sex items.



Thirteen children from the northern California area were used. Two age groups with seven children in second grade and six children in preschool, out of these four females and 9 males were used.


Twenty cards were used which displayed an image on one side and a description on the other side. Half of the cards displayed a feminine object while the other half displayed a masculine object. An Individual Data Sheet was used to list the childЃfs answers.


Each subject was asked to quietly view each card while the experimenter repeated aloud the description on the card two times. The cards were placed in front of the child, one at a time, rapidly (3 seconds to view each with one second of change time). Subjects were asked to repeat as many of the images that they could remember. Experimenters encouraged the subjects to remember more after when subjects could not remember anymore. The childЃfs answers (verbatim) were listed on an Individual Data Sheet by the experimenter.


The first hypothesis that older children will recall more items then younger children was supported (p=.020). The second grade children (M=4.71) remembered significantly more items then the younger children (M=2.17) in both conditions. The second hypothesis, that boys would remember more items then girls, was not supported. Boys remembered slightly more items (M=3.79) but not significantly more then girls (M=3.00). The third hypothesis that masculine items would be more recalled then feminine was not supported. Neither feminine items (M=3.26) nor masculine items (M=3.62) were recalled more often. The fourth hypothesis was also not supported in that the children neither remembered same sex nor opposite sex items more often. Males remembered masculine items (M=2.11) slightly more often then feminine (M=1.67) but not significantly so. Females remembered slightly less masculine items (M=1.25) then feminine items (M=1.75) but not significantly so.


The first hypothesis was found to be supported in that older



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