Toys: Nature or Nurture
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Raquel Wildes
Recent advancements in scientific studies on gender roles might provide proof that girls naturally prefer dolls to trucks (and vise versa for boys).
Curious about the nature vs. nurture argument in terms of gender roles, science blogger Paul F. Norris did research on the matter. In two different studies conducted on our primate cousins, Norris reports that toy-choice is in fact gender specific.
In one experiment, 34 rhesus monkeys were placed in a room alone with a masculine toy (e.g., a wagon, a truck, a car, and a construction vehicle) and a feminine toy (e.g., a Raggedy-Ann™ doll, a koala bear hand puppet, an armadillo, a teddy bear, and a turtle). The results were similar to human toy selection preferences. Male monkeys had a stronger affinity to choosing masculine toys, whereas there was no statistically significant difference in terms of female monkey toy choices. This is proof for the nature basis of gender roles.
In another experiment that Norris studied, gender identity was a social factor, i.e. something that can be nurtured. Observing a tribe of chimpanzees, researches found that female juvenile chimps carried sticks in a manner similar to maternal play with dolls. They would carry sticks with them while engaging in many daily activities, such as eating, climbing, sleeping, resting, and walking. In fact, the chimps exhibited this behavior until they became mothers themselves.
As much as we may not discourage our nephews from playing with dolls or nieces from playing with trucks, we can accept that their inclination to typical play things is as natural as play itself.
For more information on the research click here.
Published: January 28, 2012