Gender of preschoolers' preferred play partners: Children's perspectives

Dale Weissman, Pace University


The literature often finds that same-gender children prefer to play with each other as early as the toddler years. The current author examined play partner preferences in a sample of preschoolers. Using an interview method, the investigator explored why preschoolers choose their preferred play partners, if choices relate to gender, and whether there is an interaction between gender and reasons for choice of play partner. Fifty-five children between three and five years of age were interviewed. The interview questions were based on the literature, as well as on the questions and hypotheses of this study. Responses were coded and interrater reliability of scoring by two independent raters was high. Percentages of children's responses in all of the categories were calculated and chi square tests were performed. Results indicate that boys tend to choose boys for their preferred play partners, while girls choose boys and girls almost equally for their preferred play partners. Girls' choice of both boys and girls as preferred play partners is an unexpected result, based on prior research. One explanation for these results is the interview method used. Another possibility is that children may be influenced by the greater freedom society currently offers to both genders in playing a wider variety of roles. This study also examined reasons for choice of play partners. Reasons include enjoying the same activities and being attracted to behaviors and/or personality traits of the partner. Understanding children's play preferences contributes to the knowledge regarding gender traits. This knowledge can help adults develop experiences which may enhance the psychological development of each child. Further, this knowledge may encourage both genders to develop their own abilities, productive and rewarding relationships, and enhance their contributions to society.* *Originally published in DAI  Vol. 59, No. 8. Reprinted here under correct school.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Preschool education

Recommended Citation

Weissman, Dale, "Gender of preschoolers' preferred play partners: Children's perspectives" (1998). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9903251.



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