If you're looking to buy a gift for a baby boy, you may want to head down the doll aisle at the toy store. New research from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) found young boys prefer objects with faces, such as dolls, rather than machines such as cars and trucks.
According to the University's news release, researchers from MARCS Institute Babylab gauged the preferences of 4- and 5-month-old babies by showing them pictures of male and female humans and dolls, as well as cars and stoves. The researchers then measured how long their gaze lingered on the objects, and calculated their preferences based on how long they were fixated upon each image.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, found that like baby girls, baby boys were more willing to engage with dolls than cars.
"Everyone loves buying dolls for baby girls and cars and trucks for baby boys, it's simply what we do," said Dr. Paola Escurdero, from the UWS MARCS Institute in the news release. "As surprising as it may sound, although the thing to do is to buy dolls for girls and cars for boys, the science suggested boys actually prefer dolls."
Escurdero added that the gender-specific preferences are not present at five months based on their research, indicating that they're the result of physiological changes (hormone levels, for example), cognitive development or social pressure.
Previous studies found that 3-year-old boys opt to play with transportation and construction toys whereas girls prefer to play with dolls.
"More research is needed to fill in the gap between five months and three years to determine if it's nature or nurture that triggers little boys' interest in toy cars and trucks and other stereotypically male-associated toys," said Escurdero.