Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Toy choice among boys, girls a matter of monkey business

11.12.2002


Sure Santa Claus asks boys and girls what toys they want, but, why they want them is a better question. The answer may have to do with a biological pre-wiring that influences boys’ and girls’ preferences based on the early roles of males and females, says a Texas A&M University psychologist.



It’s commonly believed that boys and girls learn what types of toys they should like based solely on society’s expectations, but psychologist Gerianne Alexander’s work with vervet monkeys is challenging that notion.

Alexander, whose research focuses on sex differences in behavior and the biological factors that influence them, examined the monkeys as they interacted with toys. She and her collaborator, Melissa Hines of the University of London, found that the monkeys’ toy preferences were consistent along gender lines with those of human children. The study was published earlier this year in "Evolution and Human Behavior."


Though the monkeys had no concept of a "boy" toy and a "girl" toy, they still showed the same gender preferences in playing with the toys, Alexander says. That is, compared to female monkeys, male monkeys spent more time with "boy" toys, and the female monkeys, compared to their male counterparts, spent more time with "girl" toys, she notes.

"Masculine toys and feminine toys," Alexander says, "are clearly categories constructed by people. However, our finding that male and female vervet monkeys show similar preferences for these toys as boys and girls do, suggests that what makes a ’boy toy’ and a ’girl toy’ is more than just what society dictates – it suggests that there may be perceptual cues that attract males or females to particular objects such as toys."

In the experiment, Alexander says, male monkeys spent more time playing with traditional male toys such as a car and a ball than did female monkeys. The female monkeys, however, spent more time playing with a doll and pot than did the males. What’s more, both male and female monkeys spent about the same amount of time with "gender neutral" toys such as a picture book and a stuffed dog.

The implication is that what makes a "girl toy" and what makes a "boy toy" isn’t just human society or stereotypes but rather something innate that draws boys and girls to different types of toys, she explains.

Alexander believes her findings suggests that there are certain aspects of objects that appeal to the specific sexes and that these aspects may relate to traditional male and female functions dating back to the dawn of the species.

She says the toys preferred by boys – the ball and the car – are described as objects with the ability to be used actively and be propelled through space. Though the specific reasons behind the monkeys’ preferences have yet to be determined, she says, the preferences for these objects might exist because they afford greater opportunities for rough and active play – something characteristic of male play. Also, the motion capabilities of the object could be related to the navigating abilities that are useful for hunting, locating food or finding a mate.

Males, she says, may therefore have evolved preferences for objects that invite movement.

On the other hand, females may have evolved preferences for object color, relating to their roles as nurturers, Alexander notes. A preference for red or pink – the color of the doll and pot – has been proposed to elicit female behaviors toward infants that enhance infant survival, such as contact.

Alexander says that the stereotyping of toys in society probably unknowingly builds on these types of innate preferences.



Contact: Gerianne Alexander, 979-845-2567 or via email: gam@psyc.tamu.edu or Ryan A. Garcia, 979-845-4680 or via email: rag@univrel.tamu.edu.


Ryan A. Garcia | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>