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Kids Believe The World Is More Separated By Gender

Update Date: Jan 09, 2014 03:57 PM EST
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Children have very skewed views of gender segregation, according to a new study.

A new study conducted at Michigan State University revealed that kids believe the world is far more segregated by gender than it actually is.

The latest study involved 426 second- through fourth-graders from five elementary schools in the United States.

After looking at classroom friendships, researchers found that boys and girls have no problems being friends together. However, children felt that only boys played with boys and girls played with girls.

"Kids believe gender plays a larger role in friendship that it actually does," lead researcher Jennifer Watling Neal, an assistant professor of psychology, said in a news release.

For example, children were nine times more likely to be friends if they were the same gender, and 50 times more likely to believe two classmates were friends when they were the same gender.

"Thus, while gender does matter a great deal in the formation of children's friendships, children think it is nearly the only relevant factor," Neal explained.

Neal said the findings are important because children who possess more accurate perceptions of social relationships around them are better at avoiding conflict and having positive interactions with their peers. Researchers believe the findings could also affect adulthood.

"In adulthood," Neal said, "we know that people who have accurate perceptions of workplace relationships tend to be perceived as more powerful and have better reputations than their colleagues."

The findings are published in the journal Child Development.

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