Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Jennifer L. Rennels

Second Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Third Committee Member

Murray Millar

Fourth Committee Member

Eunsook Hong

Number of Pages



During the first year, infants exhibit visual preferences for female relative to male faces (Quinn, Yahr, Kuhn, Slater, & Pascalis, 2002). These visual preferences may reflect an adaptive behavior resulting from infants' greater experience with females during social interactions, particularly caregiving (McArthur & Baron, 1983; Rennels & Davis, 2008). As children learn they belong to a particular sex during toddlerhood, they become more active seekers of social knowledge and may begin to seek out members of that sex as models for determining appropriate activities and behaviors (Baldwin & Moses, 1996; Martin, Ruble, & Szkrybalo, 2002). The purpose of this investigation was to determine (a) if 18- to 36-month-old boys' and girls' visual preferences for male and female adults change after infancy to preferences for same-sex adults and (b) if children's development of self knowledge and knowledge about biological sex of self and others contributes to changes in these visual preferences. Results indicated that children showed visual preferences for low masculine males relative to high masculine males. Toddlers did not appear to be exhibiting visual preferences for same-sex faces; their level of self and gender knowledge did not appear to impact visual preferences. Eighteen- to 36-month-olds may still be exhibiting visual preferences based on familiarity with females.


Face perception; Sex differences; Toddlers – Development


Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology