Fagot and Hagen (1991) found out that as early as 18 months, parents buy different toys and respond more positively when their son and daughter play with sex appropriate toys. Women are more tolerant to their children and this explains why male stereotype develops earlier than female stereotype.
Leinbach (1989) found that before 18 months children were not aware of their sex but parents started labelling them by buying and rewarding sex appropriate behaviour more often. With time, after the labelling has taken place, children of both sexes start differentiating between themselves and what kind of toys one should play with.
Boys whose fathers had more traditional attitude to sex typed behaviour reacted in more gender typical manner. Turner and Gerva (1995) state, that fathers who were more ‘feminine’ in personality had children who showed less confidence, did not show off much and play a lot less. This shows that gender identity by labelling is reinforced more consistently by parents with traditional characteristics.
Therefore social learning stresses the influence of the situation and its circumstances in shaping and maintaining behaviour changes. Once the situation and circumstances change, so does the behaviour. Sex appropriate behaviour comes into play depending on the gender of the child and who he/she plays with. Maccoby (1990) states that preschool girls are very passive when playing with other girls; but display different behaviour when playing with boys. This is because boys always tend to dominate and take roles unless when parents are present.
6.1 CRITICISM OF SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
Social learning theorists did come out with important explanations about the development of gender, but some problems were not clearly explained. It failed to show the central concepts of reward and reinforcement clearly.
* Children do come from different backgrounds and have different biological development (nature). What is reinforcement and reward in one child might not work in another child. Bandura tried to explain this as cognitive variability, but does not look at primary factors, say when the child is in infancy.
* Social leaning theorists assume that children are passive recipients of the environment. That is they accept whatever rewards and punishments their caregiver exercises.
7. CULTURE DIFFERENTIATION
In most cultures children are encouraged to play with their own sex mates. By doing this, children get the opportunity to strengthen their behaviour appropriate to the same sex. Edwards (1988) says that the social world of boys and girls do differ in many aspects:
* When boys meet, they involve more in rough play and one person takes over as a leader of group and their attitude is competitive in nature.
* While with girls the situation is different. They tend to be less competitive, work together and play more in dyads (same) group. Their criticisms of each other are more constructive and give a chance to others to contribute.