Heterosexual social communication involving children of middle childhood years

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The present study investigated heterosexual social communication between boys and girls seven through ten years of age using a series of cartoon pictures to elicit responses during individual interviews. The sample consisted of 160 public school children enrolled at Margaret Beeks Elementary School, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Chi-Square analysis revealed significant differences in overall response patterns for each of the four pictures (p < .01). Positive responses coded as romantic, social or circumstance were chosen more often than hostile responses. A significant interaction effect of Response x Sex x Age was observed for Figure 1, boy and girl sitting side by side. Older boys gave more romantic responses, while older girls gave markedly fewer romantic responses and chose responses of a social nature instead. Responses observed for Figure 3, boy running after a girl, resulted in significant Response x Sex interaction. Girls chose a romantic response more often than social, circumstance or hostile responses, while boys chose circumstance responses. There was no significant effect due to presence/absence of opposite siblings.

Results were discussed in relation to previous findings and recommendations for further study were suggested.