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Play Behavior in the Year-Old Infant: Early Sex Differences USPHS

Goldberg, Susan; Lewis, Michael
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute of Mental Health, United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Infant Behavior, Observational Studies, Parent Influence, Sex Differences


Thirty-two boys and 32 girls, 13 months old, were observed with their mothers in a standardized free play situation. There were striking sex differences in the infants' behavior toward their mothers and in their play. Earlier observation of the mothers' behavior toward the infants at six months indicates that some of these sex differences were related to the mothers' behavior toward the infants. It was suggested that parents behave differently toward girls and boys, even as infants, reinforcing sex appropriate behavior. This study emphasizes the importance of observing the freely emitted behavior of the very young child.

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