Self‐Regulatory Mechanisms Governing Gender Development

Kay Bussey*, Albert Bandura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


This study tested predictions about development of gender‐related thought and action from social cognitive theory. Children at 4 levels of gender constancy were assessed for their gender knowledge, personal gender standards, and gender‐linked behavior under different situational conditions. Irrespective of gender constancy level, all children engaged in more same‐sex than cross‐sex typed behavior. Younger children reacted in a gender stereotypic manner to peers' gender‐linked behavior but did not regulate their own behavior on the basis of personal gender standards. Older children exhibited substantial self‐regulatory guidance based on personal standards. They expressed anticipatory self‐approval for same‐sex typed behavior and self‐criticism for cross‐sex typed behavior. Their anticipatory self‐sanctions, in turn, predicted their actual gender‐linked behavior. Neither gender knowledge nor gender constancy predicted gender‐linked behavior. These results lend support to social cognitive theory that evaluation and regulation of gender‐linked conduct shifts developmentally from anticipatory social sanctions to anticipatory self‐sanctions rooted in personal standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1250
Number of pages15
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1992


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