The Significance of Gender Boundaries in Preadolescence: Contemporary Correlates and Antecedents of Boundary Violation and Maintenance

L. Alan Sroufe, Christopher Bennett, Michelle Englund, Joan Urban, Shmuel Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

106 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has established the importance of gender boundaries as a normative aspect of development in middle childhood. Here, the nature and importance of gender boundaries as an individual differences construct was explored. Ratings of gender boundary violation and gender boundary maintenance were made of 47 10–11‐year‐old children participating in a series of summer day camps. These ratings were supported by videotape‐based behavior codings of gender boundary violating behaviors and by live observations of sheer number of associations with members of the opposite gender. In addition, considerable external validation of these individual differences was obtained. Children low on gender boundary violation and (especially) children high on boundary maintenance were independently judged by camp counselors to be socially competent. They also were found to be higher on a friendship variable, based on observation. Those who violated boundary were especially unpopular with peers, based on a child interview. Finally, boundary violation and maintenance were related to attachment history and to early measures of parent‐child generational boundary distortions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
JournalChild development
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1993

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