Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

November 2004


Lecture for Roundtable on the Emergence of Sex Differences in Early Childhood, Brown University, Providence RI, November, 2004.


Certain sex differences are observable in children’s behavior in social interaction in many cultures worldwide. Age 3-6: Insulting, rough and tumble play, and dominating egoistically are the most clearly masculine behaviors, and seeking or offering physical contact, dominating prosocially, and seeking help the most feminine. These differences are strengthened or weakened, magnified or reduced according to cultural context. (They are smallest in Orchard Town and Nyansongo).

Together with colleagues, we reexamined these conclusions in The Children of Different Worlds project, which drew upon the running record observations from 12 communities to get a much larger data set also based on improved observational codes and longer observations; as well as spot observations from 6 communities.