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Development of the gender concept…read more

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The concept of gender
Slaby and Frey (1975) found that there are three
distinct stages that children must go through in order
to develop an understanding of their gender. This
happens in the following order:
This occurs when a child can
Gender Identity correctly label themselves as
a boy or a girl.
This occurs when the child
understands that they have
Gender stability
always been/will always be a
boy or a girl/man or a woman.
This occurs when the child
realises that their gender will
Gender consistency
not change even if their
appearance changes.…read more

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Slaby and Frey (1975)
also discovered the
ages at which these
concepts developed:
three-year olds didn't
understand any of
these concepts; four-
year olds understood
gender identity and
41/2- to 5-year olds
understood all three
concepts.…read more

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Slaby and Frey's evidence comes from questioning and
observing young children. When children over the age of two
are shown a picture of a young boy and girl and asked `Which
one are you?' they can give an appropriate response by
pointing at the appropriate picture. Children with gender
stability can give correct answers to `Were you a little boy or
a little girl when you were a baby?' and `When you grow up,
will you be a mummy or a daddy?' To test for gender
consistence, pre-school children were shown a film with
men on one side and women on the other. Those children
who had previously been rated as having a greater gender
consistency watched more same-gender models. This shows
that children at this stage of development are more focused
on same-gender models. This shows that children at this
stage of development are more focused on same-gender
models that will provide them with information about…read more

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Evaluation of methods
Pointing at pictures is a good technique for testing young children because
their understanding of speech may be greater than their ability to produce it,
so asking them to verbalise a response could be an unfair test of their
The children were at an age where they would already be familiar with
different faces so the use of pictures of people as stimulus material has face
and ecological validity. It is highly appropriate to children's everyday
As children's cognitive competence improved, more searching questions
were asked which were still very simple and child-friendly, requiring a `yes'
or `no' answer.
The procedure of using films in order to measure how much children
watched same or opposite sex characters is another simple and unobtrusive
way to tell us which gender they identified with more in a way which is
ethically acceptable because it is harmless to the children involved.
Even very young children are aware of trying to make a good impression and
give the responses they think adults expect. This could have been an
unwanted source of bias in the questioning stages of the study.…read more

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