Why Do Some Boys Prefer Balls Over Dolls When Growing Up?

If you thought manliness sets at a later stage in life, such as puberty, you are dead wrong! Your genes are potent enough to take charge of your masculinity. It was recently discovered that boys as young as 9 months old prefer to play with toys considered ‘boyish’.

In a test the scientists concluded that baby boys preferred trucks while baby girls chose cooking pots as their favorite toy. Both of which are considered ‘sex-appropriate’ toys. One interesting thing they observed was that as girls grew older they started playing with typical boys toys like cars and balls.

According to the researchers, this observation might be due to parents encouraging girls to play with a more varied range of different toys. But the young boys were still less likely to get their hands dirty with dolls, maybe because it is still considered less socially acceptable and ‘abnormal’. The researchers argue that because these behavioral differences are defined so early on, biology must be playing a massive role in how boys and girls develop.




Researchers from University College London and City University observed 101 infants in three age groups: 9 to 17 months, the earliest age that infants can demonstrate which toys they like best, 18 to 23 months and 24 to 32 months. The tests were carried out at four multicultural nurseries spread across London.

The seven toys chosen to evaluate the children’s preferences were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot, which were defined as the typical girls’ toys, and a car, a blue teddy a digger and a ball, which were defined as the typical ‘manly’ toys for boys.

Testing took place in a quiet corner of the nursery, during a time when all the boys and girls were busy playing. Researchers encouraged the kids to play with any toy they liked. A record was then kept of  the toys touched by kids at intervals of five seconds for three minutes.

The researchers concluded by writing, ‘In general, the boys played with male-typed toys for longer than with female-typed toys and, conversely, the girls played with female-typed toys for longer than with male-typed toys.’

Similar patterns were observed in baby male and female monkeys as well.

The researchers also added that kids in the UK had a difference from kids in the US. They said their findings opposed studies of US children aged between 14 and 35 months, which found that girls increasingly showed a greater interest in ‘girly toys’, but this may be due to variation in the appeal of the particular toys used in the study.

While explaining the findings, the researchers added that the early preferences may be caused by exposure to male hormones in the mother’s womb. This claim is further solidified by findings that show girls exposed to higher levels of male hormones are more likely to be tomboys.

Well whatever your preference may be it is best to encourage kids to choose whatever they feel like playing, and not set any social pressures and avoid defining gender roles at such an early age.

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