socialization

Wandering around Las Vegas, Gwen and I happened upon a High School Musical-themed book complete with a little gadget that allows small children (3+) to practice texting.  The gadget allows children to press 1, 2, or 3 to send a pre-fabricated message to High School Musical characters, who send pre-fabricated messages back, and so on.

Kids, of course, like to do what they see adults doing.  That’s why they like getting play vacuums and lawn mowers.  It’s not inherently fun, it’s just fun to copy.  So it makes sense that, in a world where adults text, little kids would want to text too.

Just like play vacuums and lawn mowers, however, a toy phone to text on is training children how to be adults or, in this instance, teenage girls; ones who flirt with boys, spend a lot of time socializing on their cell phones, and use text-speak (the book includes a lingo dictionary explaining, for example, that LOL means “Laugh Out Loud” and WAZ UP means “What’s up?”).

Front:

Back:

Thanks to Jordan G. for help on this one.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.



Religious people around the world express their devotion to God(s) in widely disparate ways. When children are raised in a particular religious institution, then, it is not enough to believe; they must also learn how to worship as others around them do.

The amazing one-minute video below shows Ava Grace, a child of about two, at Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida (source).  The clip beautifully illustrates the socialization of children into particular kinds of worship.  With hand motions, body movements, and facial expressions, this child is doing a wonderful job learning the culturally-specific rules guiding the performance of devotion.

See also: The Evangelical Habitus. Via Blame it on the Voices.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Always entertaining, Jamie Keiles, of  the Seventeen Magazine Project and Teenagerie, offered the age distribution of the “hot guys” profiled in the June issue of Seventeen magazine.  This issue, after all, was the “Hot Guys of Summer” issue.  Fun!

Keiles writes that:

…only two of the guys, Justin Bieber and Nick Jonas, were even in the age range for reading the magazine, ages 12 to 19. What I found weirder, though, is that the largest groups of males featured in the article fell into the two oldest age ranges. This means its possible that the oldest male hottie, Charlie Bewley, could have fathered the youngest targeted Seventeen reader, age 12, when he was 17 years old.

Here’s the data based on an N of 13:

Men and women do marry asymmetrically, with women, on average, marrying men who are taller, more educated, who make a bit more money, have a bit more status, and are a bit older.  The average age of marriage for women is 25 and the average age for men is 27.  So this is some evidence of early socialization to this idea.

But there’s more…

Not to be underestimated, Keiles asked the question that is on all of our minds: What percentage of hot guys are vampires or vampire-adjacent?

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

In the game of Monopoly, as the title implies, the object is to get as much money as possible, ideally bankrupting all the other players until you are the only player left.  The game, then, socializes children into a particular version of economic interaction, one quite compatible with capitalism as we know it.

The idea that Monopoly is a socializing agent is brought into stark relief by The Landlord’s Game (from which, it is believed, Monopoly was derived).

Patented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904, the object of this game was to illustrate the economic inequality inherent in the renter/owner relationship.  From Wikipedia:

Magie based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

The game was manufactured beginning in 1910.  In 1935 the patent was ultimately purchased, ironically, by Parker Brothers; they wanted to buy the patents of all competing economy-based board games so as to have a monopoly on the genre.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The phrase “nature/nurture debate” refers to an old competition between those who think that human behavior and psychology is determined by biology (that is, genetics, both evolutionary and individual, hormones, neurology, etc) and those who believe that it is determined by environment (that is, socialization, cultural context, experiences in childhood, etc).  While the nature/nurture debate rages in the mass media, most scholars reject it altogether.  Instead, social scientists and biologists alike recognize that our behavior and psychology is the result of an interaction between nature and nurture (yep, even sociologists like myself).

A recent story on NPR illustrates this beautifully.  James Fallon, a neuroscientist specializing in sociopaths, had been scanning the brains of murderers for 20 years.  His research had demonstrated that sociopath brains have a distinct appearance: dark patches in the orbital cortex, the part of the brain responsible for moral thinking and controlling impulses.

You can see the dark patches in the brain on the right, the brain on the left is a “normal” brain:

At a family gathering one day, Fallon’s mom mentions that there were some pretty violent types in Fallon’s own family history (it apparently didn’t come up anytime in the previous 20 years !!!) and, so, he investigates. It turns out that there were eight proven and alleged murders in his ancestral line, including Lizzy Borden, one of the most famous murderers in history.  Because Fallon knows that the atypical neurology associated with sociopaths runs in families, he decided to scan the brains of all his family members.  No one had the dark patches.

Except him.  Fallon had the dark patches.  In fact, that brain on the right: that’s him.

Not only did he have the neurology of a typical sociopath, he also carried a genetic determinant known to be associated with extreme violence.

Fallon doesn’t have the answer to why he’s not a sociopath, but scientists think that a person needs to have some sort of experiential trigger, like abuse as a child, in addition to a biological predisposition.

Significantly, [Fallon] says this journey through his brain has changed the way he thinks about nature and nurture. He once believed that genes and brain function could determine everything about us. But now he thinks his childhood [and his awesome mom] may have made all the difference.

For related examples, see our posts on the response of testosterone levels to political victories and the historical shift in the average age of menstruation.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Women spend their young and young adult lives dreaming of their wedding day, or so the stereotype goes.  Where might girls get the idea that weddings are a particularly important day in a woman’s life?

SociologicalMe sent in a wedding day toy for girls found at a Pathmark grocery store in Delaware:

And Mary, who blogs at Disney Princess Recovery, collected these examples of Disney Princess-themed wedding books for little girls:

So maybe it isn’t part of having two XX chromosomes.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Welcome to Christmas 2008!

Rose McM. sent us this great example of rigidly gender-coded toys from the Sears Wish Catalog (click to enlarge):

NEW! (Jan. ’10): Sarah O. snapped this photo of toys that teach girls they should cook and care for babies, while boys can build things and be doctors:

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See also these posts on the Rose Petal Cottage and Tonka Trucks (“built for boyhood!”).

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.