Early Adolescent Gender Development: The Differential Effects of Felt Pressure from Parents, Peers, and the Self

Rachel E. Cook, Matthew G. Nielson, Carol Lynn Martin, Dawn DeLay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Most empirical research examining youth’s gender development measures felt pressure to conform to gender norms using a composite value of felt pressure from multiple sources; however, because of the different socialization processes at work from parents, peers, and the self, analyzing these sources separately may elucidate different effects on gender development. Thus, the purpose of this study was to (a) differentiate the effects of perceived gender socialization pressure from parents, peers, and the self on early adolescents’ own- and other-gender typicality, and (b) to examine whether a bi-directional relation between gender typicality and felt pressure is evident when distinguished across sources. With a sample of 212 early adolescents (54% girls; Mage = 11.11 years), felt pressure was found to be distinguishable by socialization source: adolescents’ perceptions of parents, peers, and their own pressures were distinct, and each contributed differently to gender development. Pressure from self and peers were both found to relate concurrently to typicality (i.e., positively to own-gender typicality, negatively to other-gender typicality); only pressure from the self was found to have a longitudinal effect on adolescents’ developing gender identity (i.e., an increase in own-gender typicality). Interestingly, other-gender typicality did not elicit higher felt pressure; in fact, it was negatively related to later felt pressure from the self, suggesting that adolescents may be developing self-acceptance of their levels of gender typicality. The findings suggest that the development of gender identity may involve a complex interplay with various sources of socialization pressures (e.g., parent, peers, self), and may further shift in relation to the adolescent’s own levels of gender typicality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1912-1923
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Early adolescence
  • Felt pressure
  • Gender development
  • Gender identity
  • Gender socialization
  • Gender typicality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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