Toys for the boys... and girls??

Is the appreciation for toys a matter of nature, or does nurture play a role? For decades we are struggling with this question. In the seventies parents tried to force boys to play with "girls toys" and the girls were surprised with boys toys.

Research on rhesus monkeys shows us that part of the preference for toys is nurture, and for the larger part dictated by hormons . (Janice M. Hassett, Erin R. Siebert and Kim Wallen: Sex differences in rhesus monkey toy preferences parallel those of children. Hormones and behavior, Volume 54, Issue 3, August 2008, pages 359 - 364) Similar research with children shows comparable results.

When girls had the disease congenital adrenal hyperplasia, they produced more male hormons and their preference for toys changed significant.

In the experiment from Hassett boys preferred to play with a car, instead of dolls. Girls are more flexible in their toy preference, but tend to play with dolls.

Other research (2002, in:Evolution and Human behavior) shows however that males had hardly preferences, where girls liked to play with dolls.

The assumption now is that the actual preference comes form the fact that boys are triggered by things that move and enable action. Their play is rough and tumble. Hormons are responsible for those triggering and as a result the brain forms different patterns.

The findings could be of importance for kindergarten and preschools, in which sometimes the post emancipatoric philosophy of equal treatment for both sexes, also regarding toys, is practiced. When mathetic learning at this age is forced in an impropriate way, there could be undesired consequences that obstruct optimal learning.

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1 reacties:

Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Very interesting contribution!
Do you perhaps have more information on this possible obstructions for learning? You can react also on private mail if it is too much for a blog.

Géraldine Boissevaint, Université Paris

6:32 p.m.  

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