You are begun to be stereotyped according to your gender when you are as young as three months old, claims a new study.
Adults attribute degrees of femininity and masculinity to babies based on the pitch of their cries, as shown by a study by researchers from the University of Sussex, the University of Lyon/Saint-Etienne and Hunter College City University of New York.
Adults often wrongly assume that babies with higher-pitched cries are females and those with lower-pitched cries are males. The study also showed that adults generally assume that babies with higher-pitched cries are in more intense discomfort.
Men associated high-pitched cries of a baby boy with greater discomfort. This is likely due to an ingrained stereotype that boy babies should have low-pitched cries. There was no equivalent finding for women, or for men’s perception of baby girls.
Despite no actual difference in pitch of the voices of girls and boys before puberty, the study found that adults nevertheless make gender assumptions about babies based on their cries.
The researchers now plan to investigate if such stereotypical attributions affect the way babies are treated and whether parents inadvertently choose different clothes, toys and activities for them accordingly.
Spontaneous cries of 15 boys and 13 girls who were on average four months old, were recorded. Researchers also synthetically altered the pitch of the cries while leaving all other features unchanged to ensure they could isolate the impact of the pitch alone. The participating adults were a mixture of parents and non-parents.
The research is published in the journal BMC Psychology.
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