How children experience, express, and regulate distress has important implications for adjustment. Factors influencing individual differences in these aspects of affective behavior include temperament, context of situation, and parents, to name a few. Gender differences in the expression of affective behaviors have also been implicated in past research. However, differences are not always found, especially before preschool ages. This study examined the presence of gender differences and moderating influences of gender on the expression of distress and mother-oriented behaviors (e.g., comfort seeking and proximity to mother) in 24-month-old toddlers during a series of situations designed to elicit either fear or frustration. Girls were more likely to seek contact from mother and stay in closer proximity to her compared to boys even after controlling for distress. However, the association between distress and contact seeking or proximity was significant for boys but not for girls. The discussion focuses on implications for biological and socialization effects of sex-typed behavior and consequences for adjustment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology