This thesis examines one particular aspect of the
infant self- concept, namely gender identity. The main
experimental paradigm is simultaneous presentation of
films of boy and girl infants to other infants aged between
10 and 14 months. Prior research has indicated that, at
this age, infants will fixate photographs and films of
same -sex other infants longer than those of the opposite - sex. This effectively constitutes an identification of
Here, this is explored further by means of moving
patch -light displays of infants. On presentation of boy
and girl infants simultaneously it was found that, by one
year, infants will again preferentially fixate those of
the same -sex. It is suggested that this indicates the
ability to recognize same -sex other infants from movement
In addition, two groups of younger infants were
presented with the same display. For both groups, no preferential fixation of same -sex emerged. As all of the
infant Ss in these experiments were pre -walking, it is
argued that this provides further support for the contention
that type of movement is included in the early self- concept.
An analysis of infant movement was also performed.
Some differences between boys and girls were noted,
including arm -swing and stepping-patterns.
Finally, a test of the efficacy of reinforcement in
the ontogeny of differential movement was attempted. For
this, films of young infants smiling were presented to
mothers. It was found that perceived gender label
appears to alter responses by mothers to the same infants.
It is argued from this that differential reinforcement may
be at least one factor in the ontogeny of differential
movement in infants.
The implications of the above are discussed within
the broader context of the developing concept of self in