Boys’ and Girls’ Perceptions of Peers in Middle Childhood: Differences and Similarities

Walter Matthys, Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, Judith Berkhout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Gender differences and similarities in children’s person perception in middle childhood were studied. Free descriptions of a same-sex liked peer written by third to sixth grade boys (N = 254) and girls (N = 254) were studied from a cognitive-developmental perspective and with regard to content. Boys’ and girls’ descriptions did not differ in egocentrism, level of abstraction, or level of organization. Girls’ descriptions, however, were cognitively more complex (i.e., more diverse in content). This might be related to girls’ more intense dyadic forms of relationships with liked peers. Content analysis revealed that boys tend to focus on the peers themselves (content categories: Achievements, preferences and aversions, personality characteristics) as distinct from their environment, whereas girls tend to perceive their liked peers as embedded in their contexts (background information, family, and kinship). This difference seems to reflect the more instrumental character of boys’ relationships with peers and the more personalized character of girls’ relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994

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