Sex Differences in the Human Infant

  • Jerome Kagan


The mind’s attraction to difference and automatic exaggeration of the contrast between physical stimuli is the partial consequence of reciprocal inhibition and exitatory processes in the cells of the central nervous system. But the mind also amplifies the difference between opposing categories. The English sailors who first encountered West Africans in the middle of the 16th century exaggerated both the contrast between the blackness of the Africans’ skin and their own as well as the psychological qualities that were at variance with the English conception of the ideal (Jordan, 1968). When categories form antonym pairs, we are tempted to go far beyond the essential contrasts that define the concepts and assume a much larger set. The small number of physical differences between human males and females have led some to expect a large set of biologically based psychological differences to accompany them. However, existing empirical data indicate that sex differences in infants and young children are the exception rather than the rule.


Human Infant Joint Play Social Approach Behavior Middle Class Mother English Conception 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome Kagan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Social RelationsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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