Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

JoNell Strough.


The purpose of the study was to investigate how early adolescents' gender-typed behaviors (i.e., masculinity, femininity, goals for interacting with peers) changed as a function of the social context. Eighty early adolescents (40 boys and 40 girls, 7th--8th graders; Mean age = 13.14; SD = .65) worked with both a same- and an other-sex peer on a collaborative or a competitive block building task. Individual attributes such as participant sex, and contextual features such sex of partner affected early adolescents' reported masculinity, femininity, and their goals for a peer interaction. Boys reported greater femininity when interacting with an other-sex peer than when interacting with a same-sex peer. On an open-ended goals assessment, both boys and girls reported a greater proportion of task-performance goals when interacting with a same-sex peer than when interacting with an other-sex peer. The type of task (collaborative, competitive) was found to influence participants' reported gender-typed behaviors. Participants who worked on a competitive task reported greater control goals compared to participants who worked on a collaborative task. Participants who worked on a collaborative task reported greater task-performance goals and mutual-participation goals than participants who worked on a competitive task. Gender differences were more apparent in competitive situations than in collaborative situations. On a closed-ended goals assessment, among participants who had worked a competitive task, girls reported greater mutual-participation and task-performance goals than boys in the same condition. The results of the study highlighted the importance of examining a combination of individual attributes and contextual features when investigating issues related to early adolescence and gender. The study supported the contention that masculinity and femininity can vary according to social contextual demands. The findings added to the literature by supporting the idea that gender is socially constructed and illustrated the importance of examining the contextual specificity of gender-typed behaviors.