The Role of Attitudes and Interventions in Gender‐schematic Processing

Rebecca S. Bigler, Lynn S. Liben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Research on gender‐schematic processing has shown that children often forget and/or distort counterstereotypic information. This process may in part explain the limited impact of past intervention efforts in which children were simply exposed to counterstereotypic information. Here we attempt to reduce schematic‐processing distortions by first teaching children decision rules about occupational sorting based not on gender but rather on interests and skills. It was hypothesized that this intervention would lead to greater flexibility in children's beliefs about what men and women can do. Assuming this effect was found, the study was designed to provide an experimental test of the hypothesized relation between attitudes and memory that had been demonstrated only correlationally in previous research. As predicted, the experimental intervention with elementary school children led to a reduction of occupational stereotyping. Children's own occupational aspirations were not, however, significantly affected. Consistent with the hypothesized effect of attitudes on memory, children in the experimental intervention showed superior recall of counterstereotypic information in a later memory test. Results are discussed with respect to the utility of cognitive‐developmental theory for planning and evaluating future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1440-1452
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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