Parents’ Sex Role Attitudes and Children’s Concepts of Femininity and Masculinity

  • Felicisima C. Serafica
  • Suzanna Rose
Part of the Priority Issues in Mental Health book series (PIMH, volume 3)


The title of the workshop to which this paper is presented asks whether parents’, teachers’, and children’s attitudes toward sex roles are changing. Most likely, the organizers of this symposium were moved to ask this question because of the secular changes taking place in the countries represented at this conference. The fact that this issue of changing sex role attitudes is being raised implies that such changes may have important psychological implications. From a developmental-clinical perspective, the most obvious implication of such a question is that changes in parents’, teachers’, and children’s sex role attitudes may result in altered socialization patterns. In this paper, we will briefly review the available evidence regarding changes in sex role standards and attitudes, then discuss the development of children’s concepts of masculinity and femininity, and how this might be influenced by parents’ sex role attitudes and children’s friendship choices. Finally, the implications of changes in parents’ and peers’ sex role attitudes on the developing child’s concepts of masculinity and femininity will be explored. Our general aims are: (1) to delineate some conceptual and methodological issues in the study of how sex role concepts evolve, and (2) to suggest some directions for future research. It seems appropriate, prior to reviewing the psychological research literature on changes in sex role attitudes, to define one’s terms. In this paper, a distinction is made between the terms “sex role standards” and “sex role attitudes.”


Religious Denomination Genetic Psychology Psychological Research Literature 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felicisima C. Serafica
    • 1
  • Suzanna Rose
    • 2
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of Missouri at St. LouisUSA

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