Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Carroll C. Lambert


Carroll C. Lambert


Donald Carter


Arthur Mahoney


A descriptive -exploratory study on the influences of age and sex on the food preferences of preschool children was undertaken to add to the knowledge of the effects of self-selection on the foods chosen and the order in which they were eaten.

Twenty-eight preschool children (fourteen two-year-olds and fourteen four and one-half-year-olds) were given two trials in which they named, selected, and ate foods from a predetermined array of seven food items.

The results indicate that there is a difference in the order in which the children of this study ate the food items. Both age groups selected candy first, however, the older children revealed the more middle-class value of deferred gratification by saving the candy to eat until last, while the younger children revealed the more immature tendency toward immediate gratification by eating the candy first.

Another finding was that sex appeared to be a factor in the order in which foods were selected and eaten. Boys ate candy first twice as many times as girls ate candy first. While the older boys saved candy until last significantly more than the younger boys, the older girls saved candy until last significantly more than the older boys. The girls showed more maturity than the boys in this study.

The other finding was that for naming the food items, the girls were able to name more items correctly than were the boys, suggesting faster language development among girls. Also age was a factor in naming the food items. The older children named more of the foods and answered rapidly, while the younger children were slower in giving names to the foods and seemed to depend frequently on touch to help confirm their identification.