Many children feel obligated by their parents and peers to behave in ways that are consistent with traditional gender roles of their culture, an obligation referred to as “felt pressure to conform to gender roles” (abbreviated as felt pressure) (Egan and Perry 2001). The current research was designed to examine links between children’s felt pressure and (a) their own responses to other peers’ “gender policing” and (b) their parents’ reports of gender socialization attitudes. U.S. children (6–12-years-old; 37 girls; 40 boys) completed self-report measures assessing (a) felt pressure to conform to gender roles and (b) responses to children described as making sexist remarks to peers (12 vignettes). Parents (66 mothers; 7 fathers) completed a gender-socialization measure of attitudes toward their children’s gender-typical and atypical behaviors. As hypothesized, children who reported more felt pressure were less likely to confront—and more likely to agree with—vignette peers’ sexist comments to another child. Specifically, felt pressure from parents was negatively related to children’s confrontation of vignette peers’ sexist comments, and felt pressure from peers was positively related to children’s agreement with vignette peers’ sexist comments. Children’s felt pressure was unrelated to parents’ self-reported attitudes. Findings suggest that felt pressure experiences with parents and peers are differentially related to children’s peer interactions, suggesting a possible mechanism by which levels of sexism may be shaped in peer groups. Results may inform interventions aimed at gender-related bullying, identifying the groups (i.e., parents or peers) most influential for various bullying behaviors and bystander responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology