Is a child’s desire to play with trucks vs dolls a learned behavior or an instinctual behavior?

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Is a child’s desire to play with trucks vs dolls a learned behavior or an instinctual behavior?

In: Biology

Most research does support that there is a strong difference in the way most boys play and most girls play. But culturally it’s been assigned. A great book to start with if you’re seriously interested is Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

My daughter has been given lots of both. She gravitates towards anything with human characteristics, such as dolls. Even when she plays with something distinctly not a character, she tells herself a little story while playing.

With our first girl we gave her a mix of non-specific toys, traditional ‘girly’ toys and also some cars and a big tonka truck. She never showed any interest in the cars/truck and always went straight for the princess toys. We now have two girls and they have both shown the same characteristics. Saying this, my wife was the one who took long term leave to care for the kids so maybe some of this is situational.

Personally I believe that we are born with base characteristics and certain external influences can bend these but not change them completely. Obviously this is not the case for some severe or significant events which can have a huge influence.

At the ELI5 level: we don’t know for sure. The most likely answer is “some of both”.

The intersection of sex, gender, culture, development and education is a complex area that is the subject of active study by multiple scientific fields.

There are some specific things we can say. We can say, for example, that there’s no instinctual behavior with regard to “trucks” because trucks simply haven’t been around long enough. But there might be some other elements involved – for example, maybe some children are genetically predisposed to bright colors while others aren’t, and maybe truck toys are predominantly in bright colors.