Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Max Weisbuch, Ph.D.


Ecological approach, Gender roles, Gender roles in childhood


In the present work, I summarize extant theories and evidence on how children learn about gender roles and test an ecological framework for gender-role learning (i.e., the Gendered Ecology Model). Existing theory has demonstrated that children begin to form symbolic representations of gender as young as 9 months and acquire basic gender stereotypes about behaviors and activities considered appropriate for each gender by 3 years. Theories have proposed several potential sources and moderators of how children learn about the roles that women and men generally hold. However, no theories have examined these sources from an ecological approach, leaving open the question of how the prevalent cultural patterns children encounter inform their gender-role beliefs. I first, therefore, review existing theories of gender-role learning, then discuss evidence regarding the way that children learn about gender, and then propose a framework for quantifying and causally examining the influence of cultural patterns on children (i.e., the Gendered Ecology Approach; GEA). Finally, I conducted a series of studies to quantify the patterns of nonverbal behavior found in children's nonverbal environments and test their causal influence on children's gender-role beliefs and behavior. Results indicate an ecological pattern of televised nonverbal bias in which gender stereotypical characters are treated more positively than gender counterstereotypical characters which reinforces girls' beliefs about gender roles and causes them to present themselves as less competent to peers.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Sarah Ariel Lamer


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

172 p.


Social psychology