Effects of Gender and Body Weight on Children’s Peer Choice During Physical Activities

Abstract

The present study investigated possible effects of gender and body weight on children’s peer choices during physical activities. Twenty-four school-aged children (12 overweight and 12 non-overweight) were observed during 2 play sessions: the 1st session consisted of 2 tests that required agility (A) and 1 that required strength (S) in an A-S-A design; the 2nd session consisted of 2 strength tests and 1 agility in an S-A-S design. Before each session, 2 participants were asked to choose members for their teams. Results suggest that peer gender is a stronger predictor of children’s playmate choices than their body weight. More specifically, children preferred to choose a peer of the same gender who was overweight rather than a peer of the opposite gender who was not overweight. However, when there was a choice between an overweight peer and a non-overweight peer of the same gender, the non-overweight child was favored.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Ana Lúcia Aiello for her suggestions and comments.

The third author was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) during her doctoral work (Grant No. 2010/16701-0). This study is part of the research program of the National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition, and Teaching (Deisy G. de Souza, chairperson), supported by grants from the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq Grant Nos. 573972/2008-7 and 465686/2014-1) and FAPESP (Grant Nos. 2008/57705-8 and 2014/50909-8).

Funding

Research and manuscript preparation were funded by grants No. 2010/16701-0 (to the third author) and No. 2008/57705-8 from Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo/FAPESP. This study is part of the research program of the National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition, and Teaching, supported by grants from the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq Grant Nos. 573972/2008-7 and 465686/2014-1) and FAPESP (Grant Nos. 2008/57705-8 and 2014/50909-8).

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Correspondence to Débora de Hollanda Souza.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Research Highlights

• Although children’s preferences for playmates of the same gender have been repeatedly evidenced in the literature, it is not clear what role body weight plays in playmate preference.

• We investigated possible effects of gender and body weight on children’s peer choices during physical activities.

• We found that children tended to prefer a playmate of the same gender who was overweight rather than one of the opposite gender who was not overweight, but when there was a choice between an overweight peer and a non-overweight peer of the same gender, the non-overweight child was favored.

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de Oliveira Souza, G., da Silva, S.R., Benitez, P. et al. Effects of Gender and Body Weight on Children’s Peer Choice During Physical Activities. Behav Analysis Practice 13, 329–335 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-019-00350-9

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Keywords

  • Gender
  • Body weight
  • School-aged children
  • Peer acceptance
  • Physical activities