Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Michael Bertoch


The focus of this study was to explores some of the important variables in sex role development in children. The major hypotheses were concerned with differences between the independent variables child's grade level, sex, and sibling status (ordinal position and sex of sibling)on the dependent variables sex role preference and bonding behavior. Bonding, a concept which has not been examined in conjunction with sex role preference, was here defined as (1)the degree to which a child affiliates with members of his own sex and (2)the degree to which a child excludes opposite sex play-mates from his affiliative realm.

Subjects were fifty-six kindergarten and thirty fourth grade boys and girls from two-child families in which the spacing between siblings was four years or less.

A pilot study was conducted to gather reliability and validity data on the measures of the bonding behavior.

Subjects were orally administered the It Scale for Children (which measures sex role preference) and the Bonding Behavior Questionnaire, which was one of four measures of bonding behavior. Each child was also observed for one hour while he was in free play. The Observation Checklist was employed to monitor bonding behavoir during this time. Teachers also filled out a Teacher Rating for each child and ranked the children on the extent to which they exhibited bonding behavior. Data relating to the main hypotheses was subjected to analyses of variance.

The single significant finding was kindergarten children with older siblings bonded to a greater extent than fourth graders with older siblings or subjects with younger siblings. A modelling explanation was posited: Children learn by observing older siblings that boys play with boys and girls play with girls. No significant correlations were obtained between the It Scale for Children and the measures of bonding behavior, suggesting that bonding behavior is not simply an artifact of sex role preference but an entity of its own.



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