The Effect of Proper Name and Appearance Changes on Children's Reasoning about Gender Constancy

Academic Article


  • Two studies were conducted to assess how changes in sex-typed names and in appearance affect children's performance on the gender constancy task. In the first study, pre-schoolers and second-graders participated in a gender constancy task in which proper names, pronouns, or sex-neutral terms were used to refer to a picture of a child whose appearance was transformed to look like the other gender. The results showed that children of both ages were more likely to respond correctly when the same proper name was used to refer to the picture throughout the task. In the second study, preschoolers, second-graders and fourth-graders were asked whether a change in proper name would change a person's gender, both by itself and with an accompanying appearance change. The results showed that younger children thought that gender would be changed by a proper name even when appearance remained constant. The results suggest that children who lack a solid understanding of gender constancy can be misled by changes in both appearance and proper name cues. © 1989, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Beal CR; Lockhart ME
  • Start Page

  • 195
  • End Page

  • 205
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 2