Preschool children with gender normative and gender non-normative peer preferences: Psychosocial and environmental correlates

Carol Martin, Matthew D. DiDonato, Laura Clary, Richard Fabes, Tyson Kreiger, Francisco Palermo, Laura Hanish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We addressed several issues concerning children who show gender non-normative (GNN) patterns of peer play. First, do young children with GNN peer preferences differ from childrenwith gender normative (GN) peer preferences in problem behaviors? Second, doGNNandGNchildren differ in sociability and isolation and do they have differential socialization opportunities with externalizing, internalizing, and socially competent peers?We employed a Bayesian approach for classifying children asGNNbased on their peer preferences as compared to their peers using a sample of Head Start preschool children from a large Southwestern city (N=257; 53% boys; M age=51 months; 66% Mexican American). To calculatesocializationopportunities, weassessedaffiliationtoeach child in theclassandweighted thatbyeachpeer'scharacteristics todeterminetheexposurethateachchildhadtodifferentkindsof peers.GNchildren of both sexes interacted more with same-sex peers,whichmay limit learning ofdifferent stylesof interaction. As compared to GN children, GNN children exhibited more engagement in other-sex activities and with other-sex play partners and GNN children experienced somewhat fewer peer interactions, but did not differ on problem behaviors or social competence. Boys with GNN peer preferences had increased exposure to peers with problem behaviors. GNN girls experienced little exposure to peers with problem behaviors, but they also had little exposure to socially competent peers,which may reduce learning social skills from peers. Implications of these findings for future socialization and development will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-847
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Gender identity
  • Gender roles
  • Gender-Typing
  • Peer socialization
  • Sociability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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