Gender-Schema Development and Children's Constructive Story Memory: Evidence for a Developmental Model

  • Welch-Ross M
  • Schmidt C
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The objectives of the present research were to (a) provide a developmental model based on script research for describing how changes in memory for gender-related information are related to changes in gender-role stereotypes, (b) examine developmental differences in the effect of stereotype manipulations on the construction of new memories, and (c) examine the relation between stereotyped activity preferences and memory for gender-related information. 4-, 6-, and 8-year-olds listened to a story in which characters performed behaviors typical and atypical of gender-role stereotypes. An introduction preceded the story in which story characters' activities and preferences were described as either consistent or inconsistent with gender-role stereotypes. Dependent variables were the percentage of typical and atypical story items correctly recognized and the percentage of false alarms made for new items. Gender-role knowledge, stereotyped preferences, and gender-role flexibility were assessed. Results for false alarms, but not hit rates, supported the hypotheses of the model: (a) 6-year-olds falsely recognized typical distractors more than atypical distractors (this effect was nonsignificant for 4- and 8-year-olds), (b) false alarms for atypical distractors decreased between ages 4 and 6, and (c) false alarms for typical distractors decreased between ages 6 and 8. Contrary to expectation, stereotype manipulation effects did not interact with age, but were influenced by gender. Stereotyped preferences were strongly related to memory for gender-related information for both males and females. Results are discussed in terms of developmental and individual differences in gender-schema strength and composition.

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  • Melissa K. Welch-Ross

  • Constance R. Schmidt

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