Impression Formation in Children: Influence of Gender and Expectancy


The effect of expectancy-congruent and -incongruent information on subsequent impression formation and recall of a target peer was examined. 64 boys and 50 girls (ages 8 to 12) were given an expectancy that a stimulus child was either shy or outgoing. Subjects rated the target on several dimensions (e.g., friendly, shy) and then watched a videotape of a boy or girl confederate acting out a script containing both expectancy-congruent and -incongruent information. Subjects then rated the target child again and freely recalled as much of what the target said as they could remember. Results revealed that when children are presented with both expectancy-congruent and -incongruent information, impression formation appears largely attribute based, and the influence of the initial expectancy appears mitigated. However, ratings of liking appeared to be more influenced by the initial expectancy than by subsequent behavioral information. In addition, the results indicated that many of Maccoby's conclusions regarding the effects of gender on social interactions also apply to children's social information processing, indicating a strong bias toward same-sex peers.

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This article was made available online June 28, 2008.

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