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Little Girls Start Believing Harmful Gender Stereotypes by Age 6

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Psychologists say little girls have about six years before they’re affected by harmful gender stereotypes about their intelligence. The researchers published their findings in the journal Science.

Belief in oneself is not just some fluffy idea. A multitude of studies have shown that girls and women who are confident in their abilities are more likely to succeed in school and in their careers. They’re more likely to take risks, score higher on tests, and advance in the world. But widespread sexism can make this confidence very difficult to come by.

Lead researcher Lin Bian is a doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois. "Our society tends to associate brilliance with men more than with women, and this notion pushes women away from jobs that are perceived to require brilliance," Bian said in a statement. "We wanted to know whether young children also endorse these stereotypes."

The research team recruited 400 children between the ages of 5 and 7 for a series of four experiments. In the first, the kids were told a story about someone who was “really, really smart” and were told about four different people, two men and two women. In the second study, they simply had to guess which of the four people was “really, really smart.”

The 5-year-olds were quite equitable-minded, believing that either gender could be the story’s “really, really smart” protagonist. But by age 6, girls were far less likely to guess that women could be “really, really smart.”

In the third experiment, the researchers showed some of the 6- and 7-year-old kids two very similar games. One was labeled for “children who are really, really smart” and the other for “children who try really, really hard.” Then each kid was asked which game interested them more. Girls and boys were equally interested in the game for hard-working children. The game for smart children was significantly less popular among the girls.

Kids in the last study were shown a game “for smart children,” then asked if they were interested in playing. The 5-year-old girls were all for it, but 6-year-old girls had substantially less interest than the boys.

Co-author Sarah-Jane Leslie studies philosophy at Princeton University. "In earlier work,” she said, “we found that adult women were less likely to receive higher degrees in fields thought to require 'brilliance,' and these new findings show that these stereotypes begin to impact girls' choices at a heartbreakingly young age.”

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Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
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Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

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5 Takeaways From the Study That Found Second-Born Boys Get Into More Trouble
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Researchers have tried to understand how siblings' birth order affects their competitiveness, intelligence, kindness and other personality traits for more than a century. Now, a new study [PDF] backs up what plenty of older siblings have long argued: their younger brothers are more prone to get in trouble. Here are five takeaways from the thought-provoking research.

1. SECOND-BORN SIBLINGS ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET IN SERIOUS TROUBLE.

The study focused mostly on older brother/young brother and older sister/younger brother sets of siblings. Among two brothers, the younger boys were found to be 20 to 40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school or get in trouble with the law compared to the older boys. As study co-author Joseph Doyle, an economist at MIT, told NPR, "I find the results to be remarkable that the second-born children, compared to their older siblings, are much more likely to end up in prison, much more likely to get suspended in school."

2. THE EFFECT WAS MORE PRONOUNCED FOR BOYS.

Doyle and his colleagues didn't find the same trend among second-born girls with older brothers or sisters. Boys and girls have different rates of delinquency; in this study, the average number of delinquent first-born girls in sister pairs was 54 to almost 100 percent lower than first-born boys in brother pairs. "The gaps in delinquency are smaller when we investigate the effect of being a second-born girl," they write.

3. THE RESULTS WERE SIMILAR IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS.

The researchers used birth registries in Denmark and in Florida that identified siblings so birth order could be determined. Then, they compared that data to school records, criminal databases, and medical or public health records. Despite differences in racial demographics, education levels, parental employment, and approaches to crime and punishment between the two locales, the researchers found that "second-born boys are substantially more likely to exhibit delinquency problems compared to older siblings" in both Denmark and Florida.

4. FAMILY DYNAMICS PROBABLY PLAY A PART.

Among the families studied, first-born and second-born siblings were equally healthy and achieved similar levels of education, so those factors did not play a large part in explaining the younger kids' propensity for trouble. Instead, the researchers suggest there is less maternal attention paid to second-born children. First-born children "experience their mothers' maternity leaves … both following their own births as well as following the births of the second-born." In other words, Jan Brady might have been right about her sister Marcia.

5. OTHER STUDIES HAVEN'T UNCOVERED THE SAME LINK.

Previous studies have found little connection between certain personality traits or intelligence and the order in which siblings were born. A 2013 paper suggested that "contrary to popular belief, the relationship between birth order and delinquency is spurious." When it comes to interpreting the effects of birth order, researchers are still—metaphorically, at least—fighting over the TV remote.

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