Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Linda Carli


This study investigated the effects of children’s gender and teacher presence on social influence. In a pretest, children (17 boys, 15 girls) aged 39 to 61 months were presented with pairs of gender-neutral toys and asked to state their toy preference for each pair. The same children, in a separate session, were introduced to puppets that specifically liked the version of the toy the children originally did not like, either with or without a teacher puppet present. The puppet stated reasons why that toy was better. Children were then asked which version of the toy they preferred. Whether children changed their preferences or maintained their original choice was recorded. Results indicated that neither boys nor girls were more influenced by a boy puppet or a girl puppet (p > .05). Additionally, the presence of a teacher did not affect the amount of influence the puppets had over the children (p > .05). Overall, the findings provide evidence that children are not affected by the gender of the puppets and the presence of a teacher in gender-neutral situations.