Early Hormonal Influences on Childhood Sex-Typed Activity and Playmate Preferences: Implications for the Development of Sexual Orientation

Sheri A. Berenbaum, Elizabeth Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

146 Scopus citations


Early hormones have been hypothesized to influence both sexual orientation and related childhood sex-typed behaviors. This study examined hormonal influences on activity and playmate preferences in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) age 2.5 to 12 years (24 girls, 19 boys) and their relatives (16 girls, 25 boys). CAH girls preferred boys' toys and activities. They also had greater preference for boy playmates than controls, but this was largely attributable to 4 girls. CAH boys did not differ significantly from controls. Activity and playmate preferences were not related. It was concluded that early androgen has a major effect on childhood activity preferences but only a weak influence on playmate preferences; sex segregation does not arise from sex-typed activity preferences; activity and playmate preferences may be differently predictive of sexual orientation; and hormonal influences on sexual orientation are likely to be complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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