The Role of Maternal Control in the Development of Sex Differences in Child Self-Evaluative Factors

Eva M. Pomerantz, Diane N. Ruble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The major goal of the present research was to examine the role of parental control in the development of sex differences in 2 pivotal self-evaluative factors in children: taking responsibility for failure and possessing strong standards. Parents were expected to use control with and without autonomy granting in specific domains differentially with girls and boys on a daily basis, and this was expected to foster sex differences in children's self-evaluative factors. Ninety-one mothers of elementary school children completed a daily checklist for 10 to 21 days. The checklist assessed mothers' everyday use of control and autonomy granting in 5 specific domains (helping, monitoring, decision making, praising, and disciplining). Children completed self-report measures assessing their tendency to take responsibility for failure and the strength of their standards. As anticipated, mothers were more likely to employ control without autonomy granting with girls than with boys, but were more likely to employ control with autonomy granting with boys than with girls. Significantly, this pattern of gender socialization partially mediated the tendency of girls to take greater responsibility for failure than boys. Although there were no sex differences in the strength of children's standards, the pattern of gender socialization was associated with the strength of children's standards as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-478
Number of pages21
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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