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Toy choice among boys, girls a matter of monkey business

id the males. What's more, both male and female monkeys spent about the same amount of time with "gender neutral" toys such as a picture book and a stuffed dog.

The implication is that what makes a "girl toy" and what makes a "boy toy" isn't just human society or stereotypes but rather something innate that draws boys and girls to different types of toys, she explains.

Alexander believes her findings suggests that there are certain aspects of objects that appeal to the specific sexes and that these aspects may relate to traditional male and female functions dating back to the dawn of the species.

She says the toys preferred by boys the ball and the car are described as objects with the ability to be used actively and be propelled through space. Though the specific reasons behind the monkeys' preferences have yet to be determined, she says, the preferences for these objects might exist because they afford greater opportunities for rough and active play something characteristic of male play. Also, the motion capabilities of the object could be related to the navigating abilities that are useful for hunting, locating food or finding a mate.

Males, she says, may therefore have evolved preferences for objects that invite movement.

On the other hand, females may have evolved preferences for object color, relating to their roles as nurturers, Alexander notes. A preference for red or pink the color of the doll and pot has been proposed to elicit female behaviors toward infants that enhance infant survival, such as contact.

Alexander says that the stereotyping of toys in society probably unknowingly builds on these types of innate preferences.


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Contact: Ryan A. Garcia
rag@univrel.tamu.edu
979-845-4680
Texas A&M University
10-Dec-2002


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