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Children and aggressive toys: Empirical study of toy preference

Jukes, J. A.; (1992) Children and aggressive toys: Empirical study of toy preference. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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A series of studies investigated the relationship between aggression and aggressive toys in 7 and 8 year old children. Relevant theories of aggression were reviewed followed by an evaluation of the previous empirical research and the 'war toy' debate. In the first of 5 studies, 20 boys rated sets of toy weapons, vehicles and characters on 'fighting', 'happy', and 'cross' dimensions. Toys from all groups were perceived as aggressive toys. Children are equally likely to play aggressive games with toy weapons, vehicles and characters. In study 2 a toy preference questionnaire was developed, and its validity and reliability determined. The relationship between trait aggression and toy preference was examined in Study 3. .30 boys and 30 girls completed the toy preference and the Sears self-report aggression questionnaires. The boys' data indicated a positive and significant correlation (r=0.63,df=28, P<.0005) between aggression and preference for aggressive toys. Boys had a stronger preference for aggressive toys than girls (t=4.05,p<.05) but there was no significant difference between the boys' and girls' trait aggression. 30 boys and 30 girls participated in Study 4 which examined the effect of arousal on toy preference. Girls in the exercise- and frustration-induced arousal conditions showed greater preference for aggressive toys (s=152, p<.01). Although boys' toy preference was not influenced by either arousal treatments, there was a positive correlation between arousal and preference for aggressive toys amongst boys and girls (r=0.86,df=58, P<.0005). Aroused children prefer aggressive toys, less aroused children prefer non-aggressive toys. Study 5 looked at the influence of an aggressive prime on the toy preference of 30 girls and 30 boys. Contrary to expectation, the aggressive prime decreased boys' preference for aggressive toys (t=2.16,p<.025), and had no effect on girls' toy preference. The findings highlight the role of subject variables in aggressive play and support the view of aggressive play as child-led rather than toy-led.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Children and aggressive toys: Empirical study of toy preference
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
Keywords: Psychology; Aggression
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107724
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