A Perspective-Taking Intervention to Decrease Gender-Based Exclusion

AbstractYoung children preferentially include same-gender peers in their play, restricting learning opportunities and reinforcing stereotypical gender roles (Ruble et al., 2006). Two studies aimed to reduce 4-6-year-old children’s gender-based exclusion through a perspective-taking intervention. Study 1 (N=98, M=5.38 years) evaluated whether inviting participants to consider peers’ exclusion-related emotions would lead participants to subsequently include (new) other-gender peers. Participants in the intervention condition were more socially inclusive from pre- to post-test than were participants in a control condition (p<0.05). Study 2 (N=101, M=5.37 years) replicated the results from Study 1 (p<0.05) and demonstrated that changes in children’s inclusive behaviors from pre- to post-test were not driven by social desirability concerns; children became more inclusive whether or not an experimenter watched them make their choices (p > 0.75). Ongoing research is testing whether the effectiveness of the present intervention is amplified when children can see (rather than infer) excluded children’s emotional reactions.

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