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The correlates and consequences of tomboyism: an exploration of gender-related characteristics, peer interactions, and psychosocial adjustment

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The study of tomboys offers useful insights for the field of gender development. Tomboys have been the focus of several studies aimed at defining what a tomboy is (Bailey, Bechtold,

The study of tomboys offers useful insights for the field of gender development. Tomboys have been the focus of several studies aimed at defining what a tomboy is (Bailey, Bechtold, & Berenbaum, 2002; Plumb & Cowan, 1984; Williams, Goodman, & Green, 1985) and what it means for children and adults who are tomboys (Morgan, 1998; Williams et al., 1985). These and further questions necessitate understanding the correlates and consequences for children exhibiting tomboy behaviors. This study aims to address these gaps in the literature as part of a longitudinal study assessing children's gendered attitudes, relationships, and beliefs. A group of 4th grade girls (N=98), were administered questionnaires asking them about their tomboy gender identity and related behaviors and beliefs. The first research question concerns how we identify tomboys through parent, teacher, and child self-report, and the application of groupings of tomboys as never, sometimes, and always tomboys. It was found that children who fall into different classifications of tomboyism differ on their similarity to own- and other-sex peers on a number of dimensions (e.g. similarity, peer preference, activity preference). Never tomboys had the most similarity and interest to own-sex peers, always tomboys, to other-sex peers, and sometimes tomboys exhibited the most flexibility with interest similar to both own- and other-sex peers. Peer-related adjustment consequences and experiences were considered for the different groups of tomboys, with always tomboys being the most efficacious with other-sex peers, never tomboys being the most efficacious with own-sex peers, and sometimes tomboys showing both own- and other-sex peer interactions and the least exclusion of any group.

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  • 2012

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Preadolescents' gender typicality: an exploration of multidimensionality

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The goal of this study was to explore the multidimensionality of gender typicality and its relation to preadolescents’ psychological adjustment. With a sample of 378 6th grade students (52%

The goal of this study was to explore the multidimensionality of gender typicality and its relation to preadolescents’ psychological adjustment. With a sample of 378 6th grade students (52% male; M age = 11.44, SD = .56; 48% White), I examined how four specific dimensions of gender typicality (behavior, appearance, activities, and peer preference) predict children’s global sense of typicality; whether children’s global sense of gender typicality, behavior, appearance, activities, and peer preference are differentially predictive of self-esteem, social preference, and relationship efficacy; and whether examining typicality of the other gender is important to add to own-gender typicality. Regression analyses indicated that all four specific typicality dimensions contributed to preadolescents’ overall sense of own- and other-gender typicality (except appearance for own-gender typicality). Generally, all domains of gender typicality were related to the four adjustment outcomes. Own-gender typicality related more strongly to self-esteem, social preference, and own-gender relationship efficacy than did other-gender typicality; other-gender typicality was more strongly related to other-gender relationship efficacy. Relations between typicality and adjustment were stronger for gender-based relationship efficacy than for self-esteem or social preference. Although some differences existed, relations between typicality and adjustment were generally similar across typicality domains. Results implicate the need to measure other-gender typicality in addition to own-gender typicality. Additional contributions and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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  • 2015