Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles

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159 Scopus citations


Cross-sex behavior in boys generally is viewed more negatively than cross-sex behavior in girls. The two goals of this study were to assess attitudes toward tomboys and sissies, and to explore possible causes for differential evaluations of tomboys and sissies. Eighty undergraduates completed questionnaires assessing their attitudes toward tomboys and sissies, and their expectations for the future adult behavior of typical boys, typical girls, tomboys, and sissies. Results revealed that sissies were more negatively evaluated than tomboys. Women were more accepting of, and perceived more societal acceptance for cross-sex children, than were men. One reason for the negative evaluation of sissies may be that there is more concern for their future outcomes than for tomboys. Analyses of predictions concerning future behavior showed that sissies, more so than tomboys, were expected to continue to show cross-gender behavior into adulthood. Also, sissies were rated as likely to be less well adjusted and more likely to be homosexual when they grow up than other children. The accuracy of these beliefs and their implications for child-rearing practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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