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Running head: INFANT’S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS’ RATINGS

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Effect of Infant’s Perceived Gender on Adolescents’ Ratings of the Infant Douglas Degelman, Veronika Dvorak, and Julie Ann Homutoff Vanguard University of Southern California

Author Note Douglas Degelman, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California; Veronika Dvorak, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California; Julie Ann Homutoff, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California. An original research proposal by Julie Ann Homutoff has been edited and adapted by Douglas Degelman to illustrate basic elements of a research proposal. Correspondence concerning this proposal should be addressed to Douglas Degelman, Department of Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. E-mail: ddegelman@vanguard.edu

INFANT’S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS’ RATINGS

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Abstract The role of the perceived gender of an infant and the gender of adolescents on ratings of the infant will be explored. Thirty-six junior high students (18 boys and 18 girls) will view a photo of a 3-month-old infant. Students will be told the infant’s name is either “Larry,” “Laurie,” or they will not be told the infant’s name. Each student will rate the infant on 6 bipolar adjective scales (firm/soft, big/little, strong/weak, hardy/delicate, well coordinated/awkward, and beautiful/plain). It is predicted that both the name assigned to the infant and the students’ gender will affect ratings. Implications of the results for parenting and for future research will be discussed.

INFANT’S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS’ RATINGS Effect of Infant’s Perceived Gender on Adolescents’ Ratings of the Infant

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Many researchers agree that gender role socialization begins at the time of an infant’s birth (Haugh, Hoffman, & Cowan, 1980; Honig, 1983). Most parents are extremely interested in learning whether their newborn infant is a boy or a girl, and intentionally or not, this knowledge elicits in them a set of expectations about sex role appropriate traits (Rubin, Provenzano, & Luria, 1974). Empirical research suggests that these initial expectations, which form the basis of gender schemas (Leone & Robertson, 1989), can have a powerful impact on parents’ perceptions of and behavior toward infants (Fagot, 1978; Lewis, 1972). Gender contributes to the initial context within which adults respond to an infant and may become an influential agent in the socializing process and the development of the child’s sense of self (Berndt & Heller, 1986). Stereotyped expectations may influence gender role socialization and the acquisition of sex-typed behavior through a self-fulfilling prophecy process (Darley & Fazio, 1980). Preconceived gender-based expectations may cause the parent to elicit expected behavior from the infant and to reinforce expected behavior when it occurs; this would confirm the parents’ initial expectations. Several studies (Condry & Condry, 1976; Culp, Cook, & Housley, 1983; Delk, Madden, Livingston, & Ryan, 1986; Rubin et al., 1974) have explored the effects of infant gender on adult assignment of sex-typed labels and have demonstrated that adults sex-type infants. These studies have examined a variety of subject populations and included infants of varying ages. Parents in one study, for example, were asked to rate and describe their newborns shortly after birth when the primary source of information about the baby was his or her gender (Rubin et al., 1974). Although the infants did not differ on any objective measures, girls were rated as smaller, softer, more fine-featured, and more inattentive than boys. Other studies have revealed that parents

INFANT’S PERCEIVED GENDER AND ADOLESCENTS’ RATINGS

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treat male and female infants differently. Culp et al. (1983) found that both male and female parents behave differently toward unfamiliar infants on the basis of perceived...
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