All Articles Tagged "dolls"
As a part of its #TheDollEvolves campaign, Barbie is getting a makeover and I don’t think we’re alone in saying, it’s about time!
After decades of debates about the unrealistic Barbie body type (and skin tones, hair styles and even those little feet frozen into a high-heel pose!), Mattel is taking notice and making great changes to the iconic doll.
Today, the toy company unveiled three new Barbie body types: petite, tall and curvy. The new 2016 Barbie Fashionistas doll line includes four body types (the original and three new bodies), seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles and countless on-trend fashions. They are all available on Barbie.com.
Time magazine broke the news of the announcement with an exclusive cover story by Eliana Dockterman. The cover image features the new “curvy” Barbie.
“The company hopes that the new dolls, with their diverse body types, along with the new skin tones and hair textures introduced last year, will more closely reflect their young owners’ world,” writes Dockterman.
“American beauty ideals have evolved,” Dockterman writes. “The curvaceous bodies of Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé and Christina Hendricks have become iconic, while millennial feminist leaders like Lena Dunham are deliberately baring their un-Barbie-like figures onscreen, fueling a movement that promotes body acceptance.”
The head of the Barbie brand, Evelyn Mazzocco, also gives a hat tip to millennial moms in crafting their expanded vision. “The millennial mom is a small part of our consumer base, but we recognize she’s the future,” she told Time. “Yes, some people will say we are late to the game,” Mazzocco continues, “but changes at a huge corporation take time.”
Word is that Mattel won’t reveal the new dolls’ proportions or how they came to be, but Dockterman observed some of the focus groups of mothers and daughters that helped inform the decisions.
Several little girls reportedly “snickered” at the new curvy doll’s body and some moms argued the new Barbie wasn’t curvy enough, the reporter found that most kids simply gravitated toward the doll that looked most like them.
“I do all kinds of things for my kids that they don’t like or understand, from telling them to do their homework to eating their vegetables,” Mazzocco says. “This is very similar. It’s my responsibility to make sure that they have inclusivity in their lives even if it doesn’t register for them.”
Before you rush to the stores, you might want to grab these new dolls online. For now, Mattel is in talks with toy retailers to create shelf space for the new dolls with their and their clothes and accessories.
While the company expects some backlash, they hold out hope for future generations.
“Ultimately, haters are going to hate,” Dickson told Time. “We want to make sure the Barbie lovers love us more — and perhaps changing the people who are negative to neutral. That would be nice.”
I remember all too well laying across my living room floor as kid when “The Doll Test” was presented on ABC’s news program “20/20.” I do not recall exactly how old I was, but I was old enough to reason that something was terribly wrong with the test where little Black girls were asked to comment on how they felt about dolls–some Black and some white. How could children of color lack self-confidence and believe that white baby dolls were better than Black baby dolls? Why was this even a question or concern? Why did this even matter?
I grew up with my very own Kenya doll, black Barbies, a Black cabbage patch, a Black baby alive, and an American Girl Addy Doll. In elementary school, we had African American Achievement Programs where we wore Kente cloth, recited classic poems from the Harlem Renaissance, and sang old Negro spirituals. At home, I watched The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Family Matters. I did not have Doc McStuffins television show or anything, but you clearly get where I am going with this. We had James Brown’s “Say It Loud” on vinyl. Black Pride was on overload in my household.
“Where did these children come from? Who raised them?” These questions and many more raced through my brain as I watched the investigative news piece on the race insecurities of African American children as a whole.
But of course I had these thoughts; Black Jesus was in a gold frame over my guardian’s headboard. Growing up in the 90’s in Philadelphia made me feel like the whole world was Black and proud. This sheltered perspective further induced by murals of legends like Patti Labelle and Cecil B. Moore painted on the side of buildings would soon come to a screeching halt during my high school days in honors courses and my undergraduate studies in NYC.
I found that when mixed in with others, my otherwise very vocal and very charismatic peers of color were not so comfortable expressing their Black pride. I will make no judgments as to why. I have several leads, but one article does not give me the space to divulge. I will say that all this leads me to the decision some may find offensive.
As long as I am buying their toys, my daughters will not play with white dolls.
Now before you call me a racist or a prejudice person, hear me out. I am not saying that my daughters cannot play with non-African American children. The exact opposite is true. Most of our social engagements involve non-African American persons. We are the only African Americans in our residential complex. Also, the parks, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, shopping malls, museums, and restaurants we frequent are primarily inhabited by non-African Americans. Excluding family events and church, we rarely see Black people.
For this reason, I think that it is very important for our girls to get acclimated with who they are racially and culturally speaking. Filtering their toys and media entertainment is one way of ensuring that they do so.
“The Doll Test” I mentioned earlier comes by way of two African American psychologists, Kenneth and Mamie Clark, husband and wife, who conducted a study in the 1940’s to test the psychological effects of segregation on children of color. Their findings would eventually be used in the famous school desegregation case, Brown v. The Board of Education.
I know what you are thinking: that was over 60 years ago! Schools are no longer segregated, Zendaya has her own television show and Dora and Doc McStuffins pop.
You are right, however, as recently as 2010, CNN reconducted the Clark study to find:
“Nearly 60 years after American schools were desegregated by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and more than a year after the election of the country’s first Black president, white children have an overwhelming white bias, and black children also have a bias toward white, according to a new study commissioned by CNN.”
At the time of The Clark’s study, in the 1940’s, Black dolls did not even exist. They were forced to paint white dolls Black in order to conduct the experiment. Nearly 60 years later, there are Black dolls available, but the results are still the same: mainstream media and imagery in America promotes low self-esteem for children of color/darker hues.
I know that I will be successful teaching my girls everything that was taught to me regarding Black history, pride and culture. But no matter what I do in our home and with them socially, they will still encounter a media and entertainment world from books, to magazines, film, and TV that does not over supply them with positive imagery of their own reflection. As their mother and a happily brown colored woman, it is my duty to filter their atmosphere with as much reinforcement of positive imagery as possible. My Black girls will play with Black dolls only.
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.
For parents that want to give kids a holiday gift that teaches diversity, inclusion and positive values, we are supporting and suggesting the Prettie Girls! Tween Scene collection, a line of multi-cultural fashion dolls that embody the positive attributes and goals that all young girls can strive for. A more youthful version of the current Prettie Girls! dolls, styled with a fun and exciting twist, The One World Doll Project creates dolls that are a friend, a partner in play, and a glimpse of their biggest, brightest dreams.
Read our interview with the creator of Prettie Girls! Dolls, Stacey McBride Irby.
Launched at Walmart in October 2015, the new collection is receiving lots of praise for diversifying the toy shelves and representing America’s children in a wholesome and realistic way. The complete Prettie Girls! Tween Scene collection includes:
Lena (African American) – Straight A student with a positive attitude.
Lena is fun, fresh, exciting and has made being smart cool! Her friends call her “The Wiz Kid” because whatever she puts her mind to, she will come out on top! A straight A student, spelling bee champ, and top fundraiser on the cheerleading squad, still Lena always finds time to help her friends with their homework & class projects. Setting goals is key, next move: Class President. If there is a Science Fair, you can bet Lena will come home with 1st place!
Kimani (African) – Loyal friend and lover of the arts
Kimani is beautiful on the inside and out. The best friend anyone could ever have. You can trust Kimani with your ultimate secret. When it comes to needing the perfect outfit, to the right jewelry or for any fashion tip, Kimani is the go-to-girl. Nothing can shake Kimani from experiencing joy. She is a spit-fire, energetic free-spirit & marches to the beat of her own drum. Artistic and creative in nature, Kimani loves the arts and dreams of red carpet moments. Watch for her name in lights!
Valencia (Hispanic) – Proud athlete and role model to her siblings
Bold & daring, loving life is Valencia’s claim to fame! As a part of her passion for a healthy lifestyle, Valencia is all about working out and eating right. As a young athletic girl, Valencia focuses on being the best she can be.
Whenever you are around Valencia, be ready to move – she’s a party all by herself! To be around her is so much fun because she is always moving and grooving to the hottest song, as a way to have fun and stay fit.
She loves watching cooking shows end enjoys testing her healthy recipes on her family and friends. Valencia’s passion for cooking nutritious meals and keeping her body healthy is truly an inspiration for all.
Dhara (South Asian) – Natural born comedian with a brilliant mind and quick-wit
You can always count on Dhara for a good, belly aching laugh! With an energy that is electric, Dhara is a natural born comedian, and loves being the center of attention. With a brilliant mind and quick-wit, she is loved by all, especially by her adorable puppy, which she rescued from a shelter, named Chance! Through her humorous and caring spirit, she encourages her friends to volunteer their time, skills & allowance money to give back to their communities. She is passionate about doing her part to save the planet and wants you to do the same – are you recycling?
Alexie (Caucasian) – Confident performer with a “can do” attitude
Alexie is flying high on life, literally; she loves Hot Air Balloons! Born two months early, she has been fighting against the odds from day one. Because of her positive “can do” attitude she has embraced all the good things in life and always looks at the glass as half-full! Her BFF is Prettie Girl, Lena! They met while singing in the Glee Club together and have been best friends ever since. She has been crowned, “The Defender”, which ironically is the meaning of her name. She is the one who believes in fighting for what’s right and ALWAYS speaks her mind. Fiesty, fun-loving and full of charisma, the Glee Club led Alexie to discover her passion for singing and performing. She’s no stranger to the winner’s circle at any talent contest and is certainly Broadway Bound! Look out New York, Alexie has her sights on you!
Hana (Asian) – Big dreamer who plans to become a pediatrician
Hana is whimsically weird, and everyone loves her quirky, fun and over-the-top personality. She is just as unique as the Unicorns she collects. On one hand, Hana is a bit of a tomboy. She loves to get dirty and even has a tool belt; her friends call her miss fix-it! On the other hand, she’s a girly-girl and enjoys playing dress up and experimenting with her hair. Using her wacky, wig collection, one day it’s orange, and the next day it may be blue – depending on her mood. Hana adores babies, especially their “new baby” smell. She loves babysitting on the weekends and reading to them is her favorite thing to do. A BIG dreamer, Hana’s heart is set on becoming a Pediatrician and owning her very own practice one day so she can take care of, and cuddle babies every day.
A Prettie Girls! Tween Scene doll can be an exciting gift, positive role model and relatable friend for many girls. The popularity of it also indicates a significant and timely shift in the toy industry, heading towards positive values and diversity.
Hold on to your kids!
Mattel just released a limited edition Moschino Barbie that retails at $150 and sold out in an hour. While that’s already something to talk about, what’s really set tongues ablaze is the new commercial. “Moschino Barbie is fierce!” exclaims a Mohawk-wearing little boy, totally stealing the scene. The first boy to ever appear in a Barbie doll commercial, we’re sure. Clearly, it’s an epic moment, and even someone like me, who considers herself to be pretty open-minded, had to stop and ask, why are they using this little boy to push their gay agenda?
Hijacking Empire was just the beginning, and it seems like they won’t stop until gay and transgender is everywhere. And if the powerful influence of media it’s just a matter of time before little Jamal wants to become Jenny and little Patricia wants to be Patrick. This has got to stop.
I’m about to go psychotic in the comments section of the clip on YouTube when my eyes catch a big orange toy truck in the middle of the floor. It’s a toy I bought for my daughters for Christmas last. I got it for them because I loved playing with my brother’s remote control cars growing up. I also played with his toy soldiers, and his hand-held football games were my favorite. We’re only 10 months apart so he played with my dolls too, and neither one of us is gay or transgender.
I grew up to become the mother that I am and he went to the army, so there goes that theory of toys somehow influencing us to be gay. I wonder how things might have been different if my mom had censored us? When I really think about it, I like having toys that are both masculine and feminine.
When my girls start leaning too heavily on dolls I start worrying that they’re thinking too much about the exterior and not what makes them special on the inside.
When I look at my neighbor’s boy and how heavily he’s pushed towards toy guns I wonder if he’s going to grow up aggressive. Maybe a doll or two might help balance him out.
Thinking back to my reaction to seeing that boy in the video, I’m aware that I was projecting my fears onto him. But what if he’s just a kid having the time of his life? As parents, we become so protective that we stifle them before they even get out of the gate. I do a little research and come across an article written by Dr. Kristin Carothers, clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. She says, “Kids need to be able to explore different roles and learn about their interests so they can better understand who they are and what makes them happy. Allowing them to choose their toys and activities will help them become independent and make better decisions as they grow older.”
In other words, kids need to be kids. I remember a video that went viral not long ago of a man whose little boy got two of the same toys for his birthday and when his father took him to the store to exchange one toy for a new one, he chose a doll. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, the father received a ton of praise.
“We [he and his wife] let our boys choose their lives,” said the father. That was an epic moment too.
How about, we’re making too much of all this? If anything, Mattel’s real agenda was in creating a commercial that would get everyone talking, and thus sell more Barbies, which they succeeded in doing. I’m more concerned with the Kardashian-style empty materialism that this Moschino Barbie doll is portraying, but that’s yet another controversy. Bottom line is, we should all take it easy and let kids be kids.
Check out Erickka Sy Savané’s column, Pop Mom Daily, right here or visit PopMomDaily.com. Before Erickka became a writer/editor, she was a model, actress, and MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at Walmart when I noticed that a little Black girl behind me was cradling a White Barbie doll to purchase. After I sparked a conversation with her dad, she raised the little blonde-headed, bright-eyed figure up in the air for me to see. “Aww, how cute!” I told her. Then, jokingly to her dad, I said, “They didn’t have any Black dolls stocked on the shelves today, huh?”
“Oh, that’s just the one she picked out,” he replied.
Noticing the disapproving look on my face, he added, “She has plenty of Black toys at home though.” I just nodded my head in response. The fact that he said his daughter had Black dolls at home put me more at ease, but in all honesty, I think there’s a major problem with Black children maintaining a toy collection that doesn’t reflect their own skin tones and beauty, especially young girls. Now, I’m not saying that non-Black dolls should be completely off limits for your little ones, but when it boils down to it, the bulk of those babies should be brown like sugar and black like molasses.
Growing up, I recall having an assortment of Barbies and other doll figures. And to my recollection, they were pretty much all Black (I really can’t remember ever owning any White dolls). My mom made sure she took me to stores where Black toys were sold so that I would be exposed to, and play with, figures that looked like me. Because whether you realize it or not parents, little things like the toys that your children play with, have a major impact on their self-image.
And when it comes to little girls and their precious baby dolls, that influence is even more dynamic.
Just think about it. When you were a little girl, didn’t you cherish your baby dolls like they were rare gems never again to be sold? Didn’t you pretend you were little Barbie, Jessy or Jen and live vicariously through them? So tell me what’s wrong with a Black, curly-headed, brown-eyed baby idolizing and seeing herself as a White, straight-blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll?
Some of you may recall the study CNN and several other media outlets conducted to test Black kids perception of beauty through the use of dolls (although CNN’s study also included White children), modeled after Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s famous “Doll Test” used in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Like with Kenneth and Mamie’s findings, most kids involved in the new studies pointed to the White doll when asked which one was “pretty,” “nice,” and “good” and targeted the Black doll when asked which one was “ugly,” “bad” and “mean.”
Yes, this is real. There are really Black kids all over the world who see themselves as less than and unattractive due to Black-bashing, European beauty standards projected in media, and a lack of parental interference. But I believe this perception would change if parents started instilling lessons of self-love in our babies early on, and one of these steps includes restocking those toy shelves with figures that reflect the magnificence of our beautiful Black children.
For years, we rarely saw toy representations of Black people. Now, there’s no excuse. We have a wide variety of Black doll companies boasting beautiful Black skin (and natural, curly and kinky hair) just waiting to decorate the toy chests of Black children all over the globe. So when it comes to the question of whether or not Black girls should be allowed to play with White dolls, I say: “Ehh, sometimes.” There’s nothing wrong with a little diversity. Just as long as the majority of her toys look like they were picked from her family tree.
But what are your thoughts parents? Should Black girls be allowed to play with White dolls?
American Girl, the line of dolls that come with their own personal story, has discontinued two historical characters of color: African American Cecile and Asian American Ivy, two dolls that represent a diversity not often seen on the shelves at toy stores. The Mattel-owned company retired the dolls in order to re-launch a new historical character line. American Girl wrote in the comment section of its announcement, “With the re-launch planned for this fall, we have decided to move away from the character-friend strategy within the line, which means we will no longer offer Ruthie, Ivy, or Cecile and Marie-Grace.”
The historical character line was created by aligning three pairs of dolls who are best friends under strained circumstances, presented through the lens of various periods in American history. For instance, in an example provided by the American Girl site, Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner form an “unlikely bond” in New Orleans, Lousiana when sickness spreads through the city. This friendship is formed directly after the Civil War and is most likely linked to the Reconstruction Period where slaves were assimilating into greater American society. Asian American Ivy Ling is the best friend of Julie Albright. Living in San Francisco, their friendship was shaped by Chinese immigration during the 1970s. Ling’s character represents Asian-American girls who are first generation and strive to make their families proud.
With Cecile and Ivy leaving the line, only Addy, Josefina (New Mexican) and Kaya (Nez Perce) will represent dolls of color. Addy is an African-American slave.
Since business and media has a huge impact on the way children feel about issues that directly affect them, MadameNoire asked 10-year-old Rachel Andries for her thoughts about the issue. “I like black dolls because they make me feel beautiful,” she told MN. “Also I can dress them up and style them the way I would like to dress.” When she heard American Girl will only be selling Addy, Rachel shared, “I would choose Cecile Rey over Addy because slavery was not nice.”
Due to the announcement, American Girl’s historical line is selling like hot cakes. Do you think consumers will still support American Girl after Cecile and Ivy say their final goodbyes? Do you have suggestions for the new line of dolls?
A new doll named Lammily might just revolutionize the toy industry. At the very least, it will change the doll industry. Over the years many have complained that Barbie is an unrealistic image of the average woman; that the doll can actually lead to little girls developing poor self images because they don’t have Barbie’s “perfect” and wholly unrealistic body. Lammily’s look is designed to reflect the average 19-year-old.
Her motto is, “Average is beautiful.” And she truly is average. “Her body shape is based on averages of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is more often used to track the American obesity epidemic,” reports The Atlantic.
Designed by Nickolay Lamm, a graphic artist whose images of the “Normal Barbie” went viral on the Internet last year, Lammily is expected to hit the market by Christmas 2014. Lamm has launched a crowdsourcing project to get the doll into production, exceeding the fundraising goal with $370,190 raised. Lamm aims to produce 5,000 of the dolls and hoped to raise $95,000, reports International Business Times. He has 6,500 supporters. (It might be worth noting here that sales of the Barbie doll have decreased in recent years.)
“If Barbie were a real woman, she would be incapable of walking on two feet or lifting anything with her tiny wrists, and her svelte waist would only have room for half of a liver, according to a report by Rehabs.com.” [h/t NBC News]
Lamm has not said if the dolls will come in various ethnicities.
No word on whether Lammily will have Barbie’s to-die for fashions or a sports car-driving boyfriend. But she’ll be athletic and wear comfortable shoes, which might be just as good.
Plenty of little girls have longer for Barbie’s Dreamhouse. The rooms, the accessories, the Ken doll. Now, in Sunrise, Florida girls big and small can live the dream at the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience at Sawgrass Mills mall, TODAY.com reports.
Clocking in at 10,000 square feet, the colossal candy pink building features things like a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and of course an enormous closet, all complete with life-sized furniture. The walls are lined with Barbies and there are interactive options that make the experience is even more real. Vice president for global marketing Lori Pantel told TODAY.com, “The Dreamhouse Experience marks the first time fans are able to experience Barbie’s dream life first hand.”
The Dreamhouse Experience is also available to girls of all ages in Berlin, Germany, but it was met with protests by those who felt the exhibit reinforced damaging gender roles. As for why the American installment is housed in Florida, Mattel representatives say it’s because Florida has a high concentration of Barbie collectors.
They were controversial as soon as they hit the market — the Django Unchained action figures caused debate over whether they were racist, inappropriate, and/or exploitive. Now the dolls have been banned from eBay, according to TMZ.
As we reported, many complained that the selling of these slave dolls, which were available on Amazon, is not only racially insensitive but also makes light of slavery. Following massive backlash from African-American advocacy groups, The Weinstein Company (which produced the film) discontinued the promotional figurines.
Ebay said via emails to sellers, “Since the manufacturer of this product has discontinued the item’s sale due to its potentially offensive nature, we are not allowing it to be sold on eBay,” reports TMZ. According to eBay, the dolls were in violation of the company’s “Offensive Materials policy.” The dolls had been fetching as much as $300 apiece. According to Deadline Hollywood, the bidding for a complete set of the dolls had reached $1,000.
But all this controversy could have the opposite effect, making the doll even more collectible and expensive.
Are you opposed to the Django dolls?
Have you ever wondered why your daughter gravitates more towards her dolls and your son more towards his Tonka trucks? According to very interesting article posted by Huffington Post – the answer may surprise you – and oddly enough, it’s tied to a monkey experiment.
When offered the choice of playing with either a doll or a toy truck, girls will typically pick the doll and boys will opt for the truck. This isn’t just because society encourages girls to be nurturing and boys to be active, as people once thought. In experiments, male adolescent monkeys also prefer to play with wheeled vehicles while the females prefer dolls — and their societies say nothing on the matter.
The monkey research, conducted with two different species in 2002 and 2008, strongly suggested a biological explanation for children’s toy preferences. In recent years, the question has become: How and why does biology make males (be they monkey or human) prefer trucks, and females, dolls?
New and ongoing research suggests babies’ exposure to hormones while they are in the womb causes their toy preferences to emerge soon after birth. As for why evolution made this so, questions remain, but the toys may help boys and girls develop the skills they once needed to fulfill their ancient gender roles.
First, in 2009, Gerianne Alexander, professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, and her colleagues found that 3- and 4-month-old boys’ testosterone levels correlated with how much more time they spent looking at male-typical toys such as trucks and balls compared with female-typical toys such as dolls, as measured by an eye tracker. Their level of exposure to the hormone androgen during gestation (which can be estimated by their digit ratio, or the relative lengths of their index and ring fingers) also correlated with their visual interest in male-typical toys.
“Specifically, boys with more male-typical digit ratios showed greater visual interest in a ball compared to a doll,” Alexander told Life’s Little Mysteries.
Kim Wallen, a psychologist at Emory University who has studied the gender-specific toy preferences of young rhesus monkeys, said, “The striking thing about the looking data shows that the attraction to these objects occurs very early in life, before it’s likely to have been socialized.”
Further buttressing the idea that toy preferences are caused by hormones, last year, a group of British researchers found that girls with a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who experienced abnormally high levels of the male sex hormone androgen while in the womb, prefer to play with male-typical toys.
But why would male sex hormones make people favor wheeled vehicles and balls? A common explanation holds that these toys facilitate more vigorous activity, which boys are evolutionarily programmed to seek out. But the 2009 study indicated that their affinity for balls and trucks predates the stage when children actually start playing with toys. At just 3 months old, the newborn boys already fixed their eyes on the toys associated with their gender.
“Given that these babies lack physical abilities that would allow them to ‘play’ with these toys as do older children, our finding suggests that males preference for male-typical toys are not determined by the activities supported by the toys (i.e., movement, rough play),” Alexander said.
Wallen approaches the data more cautiously. “It’s hard to interpret what the looking data mean because we don’t know why people are attracted to specific things. Clearly children recognize that certain objects in their environment are appropriate for certain activities. They could be looking at a certain toy because it facilitates an activity they like,” he said.
The debate over why boys prefer toy vehicles and balls continues. In a new study, Alexander and her colleagues investigated whether 19-month-olds move around when playing with trucks and balls more than they do when playing with dolls. According to the study, they don’t. Toddlers with higher levels of testosterone are more active than toddlers with lower levels of the sex hormone, but the active toddlers moved around just as much when holding a toy truck, ball or doll. “We find no evidence to support the widely held belief that boys prefer toys that support higher levels of activity,” she wrote in an email. A paper detailing the work has been accepted for publication in the journal Hormones and Behavior.
If it isn’t vigorous activity they’re after, it could be that boys simply find balls and wheeled vehicles more interesting, while human figures appeal more to girls. As for why evolution would program these toy preferences, the researchers have a few ideas. According to Alexander, one possibility is that girls have evolved to perceive social stimuli, such as people, as very important, while the perceived worth of social stimuli (and thus, dolls that look like people) is weaker in boys.
Boys, meanwhile, tend to develop superior spatial navigation abilities. “Multiple studies in humans and primates shows there is a substantial male advantage in mental rotation, which is taking an object and rotating it in the mind,” Wallen said. “It could be that manipulating objects like balls and wheels in space is one way this mental rotation gets more fully developed.”
This is purely speculative, Wallen said, but boys’ superior spatial abilities have been tied to their traditional role as hunters. “The general theory is that well-developed skills in mental rotation allowed long distance navigation: using an egocentric system where essentially you navigate using your perception of your location in 3D space,” he said. “This might have facilitated long distance hunting parties.”
Words By: Natalie Wolchover
Published: 08/24/2012 07:26 AM EDT on Lifes Little Mysterie