Date of Award:

1969

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Child Development

Advisor/Chair:

Don C. Carter

Abstract

The purpose was to discover whether the preschool child who has toileted with boys and girls in an open situation for at least four weeks would recognize the genital differences between a male and a female doll and use this knowledge to select the type of clothes appropriate for these dolls. Hypotheses were: (1) The preschool child who has toileted in an open situation with both sexes for at least four weeks can identify male and female dolls on the basis of genital structure. (2) The preschool child can select appropriate clothes for male and female dolls on the basis of genital structure as the dominant cue as to sexuality . Twenty children ages three to five were selected because they had toileted in an open situation for at least four weeks with boys and girls, because they attended the same classroom, and were familiar with the experimenter . Preceding the actual collection of data a pilot study was conducted on a similar but separate classroom of children to test the proposed research design. The subjects were informed, as a group, of the general content and procedure of the experimental situation to follow. The subjects went first behind the screen with the experimenter to arrange six blocks in any design they wished. They went again behind the screen in the doll house where they sat facing the genitals of a male and a female doll. After powdering the dolls' genitals, they selected clothes for them from two sets of male slacks and two dresses. The subject was then asked the reason for his choice. Four of the 20 subjects, two boys and two girls, were able to identify the sex of the dolls on the basis of genital structure. All four were from homes with opposite-sex siblings. Three of the four expressing a recognition were four years old . Conclusions: (l) Preschool children appear generally to be unable to identify sexuality on the basis of genital structure . (2) Age is a significant factor influencing the child's discrimination of sexual differences. (3) The opportunity for observation and discovery of differences between the sexes through the presence of opposite-sex siblings in the home appears to be influential on the child's development of sexual awareness.

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