A social‐cognitive appraisal of sex‐role development

Kay Bussey*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    During the past decade there has been a proliferation of research on the topic of sex‐role development. This paper presents a comprehensive, cognitively based approach to sex‐role development with reference to the recent literature on social cognition. This approach uses methods that enable a better appraisal of the cognitive bases of sex‐related information in even very young children. By employing research methods more relevant to the everyday experiences of young children, it is demonstrated that they are more cognitively and socially competent than the more traditional research and theories of sex‐role development suggest. Thus, it is unnecessary to resort exclusively to biological proclivities to explain the early emergence of sex‐typed behaviour in young children. It is also shown that boys and girls follow different developmental paths in the acquisition of sex‐typed behaviour and knowledge. Boys and girls are parallel in their knowledge and performance of sex‐appropriate activities. The major difference in development between boys and girls is in their knowledge and performance of activities more usually associated with the opposite sex. Thus, (a) boys imitate male models and reject female models (except when female models behave in accord with the male sex role); girls imitate both female models and, to a lesser extent, male models; (b) boys know little about girls' activities; girls are well informed about girls' and boys' activities. 1983 Australian Psychological Society

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-143
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1983


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