University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Social and Developmental Psychology (SDP) Seminar Series > Sex-typed preferences are not universal: An experimental test of children's toy and colour preferences in Peruvian Amazon Basin and Vanuatu kastom villages

Sex-typed preferences are not universal: An experimental test of children's toy and colour preferences in Peruvian Amazon Basin and Vanuatu kastom villages

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Sex-typed toy and colour preferences, such as boys’ preferences for toy vehicles and for blue, and girls’ preferences for dolls and for pink, are so common that they might be considered an evolved human adaptation. However, before preferences can be considered an adaptation, they must be shown to be universal across all human cultures. Toy and colour preferences were tested in 331 children, across four cultural contexts: kastom villages and a school in Tanna Island in Vanuatu; Shipibo villages in the Ucayali River region of the Peruvian Amazon; and children in a large, industrialised city in Australia. Results found no culturally-universal sex-specific preferences for toys or colours. There may be more general, underlying complex systems that produce emergent preferences that are different depending on the environmental context. This evidence suggests that future research on the origin and development of sex-typed preferences should look beyond specific preferences, and consider more general processes, to explain gender development.

This talk is part of the Social and Developmental Psychology (SDP) Seminar Series series.

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