Affecting Girls' Activity and Job Interests Through Play: The Moderating Roles of Personal Gender Salience and Game Characteristics.

Abstract

Gender schema theory (GST) posits that children approach opportunities perceived as gender appropriate, avoiding those deemed gender inappropriate, in turn affecting gender-differentiated career trajectories. To test the hypothesis that children's gender salience filters (GSF-tendency to attend to gender) moderate these processes, 62 preschool girls (M = 4.5 years) were given GSF measures. Two weeks later, they played a computer game about occupations that manipulated the game-character's femininity (hyperfeminized Barbie vs. less feminized Playmobil Jane). Following game play, girls' interests in feminine activities showed an interaction of game condition and GSF: High-GSF girls showed intensified feminine activity interests only with Barbie; low-GSF girls showed no change with either character. Neither GSF nor game condition affected occupational interests. Implications for GST, individual differences, and occupational interventions are discussed.

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