2013. Vol.4, No.11, 891-896
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/psych) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2013.411128
Open Access 891
Construction and Validation of the Gender Apperception
Test-GAT for Children
Silvana B. Gaino1, Francisco Baptista Assumpção Jr.2, Gerson Silva Santos Neto2,
1Health Sciences Center, Federal Univers i t y of Bahia’s Reconcavo, Sa n t o A n t o nio de Jesus, Brazil
2Institute of Psychology, University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
3Universidade Federal do R e c on c a v o d a Bahia, Cruz das Almas, Brazil
Received September 17th, 2013; revised October 18th, 2013; a c c ep t e d N o v e mber 15th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Silvana B. Gaino et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
Objective: This study had objectives as the construction and validation of an instrument to assess the fac-
tors associated to the formation of gender identity considering the role of toys and childish games, easily
applicable and possible to be used in a wide range of contexts with children aged from 4 to 6 years old.
Method: The Gender Apperception Test (GAT—originally TAG in BR-Portuguese), formed by 51 items,
was applied in 303 children (171 boys and 132 girls) from public and private schools. Results: The inter-
nal consistency of the items was very satisfactory presented in Cronbach’s Alphas of 0.92. Conclusions:
GAT’s psychometric parameters were satisfactory, indicating that this is an alternative way for empirical
investigations and applied works in different institutions, capable of guiding measures intended to assess
and keep up with the development of children’s gender identity concept.
Keywords: Gender Identity; Toys and Games; Children Evaluation
The concern for studies about the activity of plays and games
has been growing on scientific literature, especially last years.
One of the reasons for the increase of researches over this
theme is due to the impact of discussions made by Evolutionist
Psychology, which has studied the plays and games under the
hypothesis that these are continually adapted and also adaptive
for the species for containing phylogenetic and ontogenetic
aspects that bring possible relations between culture and phy-
logenesis. The activity of plays and games can be found in hu-
man’s children as much as in others mammal’s puppies, and
this is directly related to internal motivation of these to such
activity, being characterized by a set of behaviors that indicate
developmental processes and aspects (Hansen et al., 2007).
Vygotsky (1989) used to claim that through observation and
by the studies of play ing, it is possible to detect and create zones
of proximal development and, consequently, provide children
with qualitative jumps on cognitive, social, affective, and phy-
sical development, as well as on the formation of personality
(Carvalho, 1989; Morais, 2004; Coll, Marchesi, & Palacios,
2009). According to Kishimoto (1988), the play is characterized
as a set of behaviors that has a purpose in itself, arising natu-
rally, and it does not feature as an obligation remaining itself
mainly only by the pleasure found by the child while playing.
Pellegrini and Smith (1998) agree with this concept and em-
phasize that its importance would be linked to its own process
rather than it s la ter benefits.
In posterior studies Morais and Otta (2003) identified aspects
that could influence the play, then they introduced a concept
called “playful zone”, corresponding the space in which occurs
the play composed by three elements: 1) the child with their ex-
periences, resources, motivations, pressures, and social condi-
tions surrounding him/her; 2) the physical space in which the
child is inserted, as well as the toys available; and 3) the tem-
poral space, namely, the amount of time dedicated to the play
and how the child manages this time and the apprehended fa-
miliar beliefs. Such elements would influence the play endow-
ing the child with peculiar characteristics.
On the context of Psychology, the play started to be investi-
gated by Spencer (1966), Kagan (1977) and Groos (1976) who
emphasized in their studies the play being a product of an en-
ergy excess of the child. As the play started growing in impor-
tance due to the results presented, the studies involving the De-
velopmental Psychology, the Clinical Psychology, the Psycho-
logy of Education, and the Psychology of Health began to in-
crease considerably, amongst other areas. However, Cordazzo,
Martins, Macarini & Vieira (2007) gathered studies related to
the play and the concentration areas of these studies, and so
verified the need of general development of the child, as the-
rapeutic activity, as space of expression of feelings and emo-
tions, besides investigations about the play of children present-
ing various pathologies during their development, focusing the
benefit that this activity may bring to the adhesion and mainte-
nance of the treatment, as well as the subjective elaboration and
coping of these pathologies.
Regarding the contributions from Evolutionary Psychology
to these areas, it is highlighted its investigations about the gen-
der differences and its relations with the play. The gender iden-
S. B. GAINO ET AL.
tity, according to the evolutionary conceptions, is a key element
in personality development, as it influences the way of being,
acting, and thinking of individuals and it is also constituted into
the set of beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes that the child will
form about its own gender and has its origins in biological, psy-
chological, and social antecedents (Papalia & Olds, 1998). In
this sense, the gender identity is referred to the individual no-
tion of belonging to one of the genders, either male (boy, man)
or female (girl, woman).
Overall, the concept of gender appeared more often on re-
searches from the moment they began discussing the sociocul-
tural aspects versus biological aspects presented in behavior
and the social influences experienced. Thus, such influences
can differently structure the definition of being a woman or
being man in a society built historically (Gobbi, 1996).
Another definition of gender, defended by Scott, is taken as a
“social organization of sexual difference”, being one constitu-
tive element of social relationships based on noticed differences
between sexes, providing a way of decoding the meaning and to
comprehend the complex connections amongst the several ways
of human interaction.
Amid the multiplicity of researches, for Otta, Ribeiro, and
Bussab (2003), it was noted a crescent volume of these that
have been documenting sexual differences, which surely arise
in human biology and evolve to sexual characterizations, point-
ing to the fact that these are not arbitrary characteristics of wes-
tern culture. In almost all cultures, women are more responsible
for child care, and men for activities belonging to public do-
main (Otta, Ribeiro, & Bussab, 2003). In this sense, to Delgado
(2003), the familiar environment will play a fundamental role in
the construction of the gender identity. The process of becom-
ing a woman and becoming a man begins even before formally
entering in a school, showing that precocious influences may be
favoring the presented behaviours.
Thus, Beraldo (1993) and Bichara (1994) consider that the
child starts showing some stereotyped preferences and linked to
gender identity around their 3 years old, which shows how
influent the family can be in his/her formation. The segregation
and classification of sex would not be, therefore, only a reflex
of individuals’ preferences, but a group phenomenon that would
start in the family (Maccoby, 1988).
This statement was also important for Silva’s et al. (2006)
studies who claim that gender brings behaviours and cultural
meanings as characteristics about what is to be “feminine” or
“masculine”, taking into account sex as a physiological and
anatomical aspect determined by biology that uses for classifi-
cation “male” and “female”. The base for gender differentiation
is biological, but the constructions in process, and the way it is
processed, are symbolic and social. Therefore, it is necessary to
place the discussion into a wider and more integrated perspec-
tive, thus allowing an expanded view of the phenomenon of
gender differentiation and self-categorization, in order to com-
prehend how the biological and cultural factors interact.
The main restriction regarding the evaluation of this phe-
nomenon is due to the absence of valid instruments for such
purpose. Hitherto, the studies and researches performed have
been based on either direct or indirect observation of the activ-
ity of playing and toy’s choice made by boys and girls in sev-
eral contexts. Some of these were made by Pontes, Magalhães,
& Martin (2008), who investigated the children’s choices of
toys made of palm straw, considering the gender influence and
the composition of the dyad mother-child. Cordazzo and Vieira
(2007) on the other hand made a research about playing games
and its implications in the learning and development processes,
whereas Oliveira, Vieira, & Cordazzo (2008) pointed the play
as a health promoting agent in child development.
As for studies and researches that took into account the gen-
der identity, one conducted by Wanderlind et al. (2006) in-
tended to identify the existing differences of gender identities in
the play of scholar and preschooler children in the context of a
playroom. Another study, but under the evolutionary psychol-
ogy perspective, Hansen et al. (2007) publicized one paper in
which was evaluated the play and its implications for child de-
Despite the increase of studies and researches about gender
identity and the possible factors associated with its formation,
especially after the advent of Evolutionary Psychology, there is
still one gap concerning the lack of instruments able to assist in
the assessment of this construct, as these must attend the psy-
chometric parameters and its theoretical postulates. In regards
to Brazil, the situation is yet more complicated, since the ab-
sence of instruments to standardize and organize the evaluation
in this area has limited possible advances.
Thereby, this study aimed to develop and validate an instru-
ment of gender apperception, easily applicable that could be us-
ed in as many environments frequented by children as possible,
such as schools, clinics, day care center, shelters, etc. Then, the
Teste de Apercepção de Gênero (TAG)—or the Gender Apper-
ception Test (GAT)—was developed, whose process of con-
struction and validation is described below.
Developing the Test
The cards composing the TAG, which also confer to the deck
a playful aspect, were elaborated from the analyses of literature
about toys and child’s games and its relations with the forma-
tion and development of gender identity manifested by children,
and also considering the opinion of boys and girls, via an oral
interview, in which boys and girls have indicated their prefer-
ences for toys and child’s games. In this last case, only 2 toys
and 2 games (the firsts said by each child) were considered to
compose their opinion.
The cards present drawings of toys and games chosen, ac-
cording to frequency, randomly arranged, but always consider-
ing a set of one “male” card, one “female” card, and one ‘neu-
tral’ or for both genders card. It was decided to use cards rather
than real toys because these drawings represent the real thing,
with the advantage of being more practical and time-saver to
assess the formation and development of the gender identity.
Moreover, for having an easier and more practical application,
it is easier to work with impaired children. As pointed previ-
ously, the play and games have been investigated both in hu-
man’s infants and in other mammal’s pups, which have pre-
sented a direct relation with internal motivation of these, and
are characterized by a set of behaviours that indicate develop-
mental aspects and processes (Alexander & Hines, 2002; Otta,
Ribeiro, & Bussab, 2003; Wanderlind et al., 2005; Hansen et al.,
2007; Cordazzo & Vieira, 2007; Cordazzo et al., 2008; Oliveira,
Vieira, & Cordazzo, 2008).
One of the concerns in constructing such instrument was re-
lated to how easily it could be applied on different populations
of children. Then, the drawings were made considering the
main toys and games, id est., the ones that are most played,
S. B. GAINO ET AL.
regardless the social background of the child, considering pos-
sible influences on the formation of their personality, and also
taking into account some other aspects, such as types of wheel-
ed vehicles (bicycle, cars, trucks), dolls (Barbie-style, hero-
style), or, for instance, sets of make-up and tools. In order to
identify these items, children were consulted, as well as pro-
fessionals from Psychology, Psychiatry, and Education.
Thus, it was obtained at first a total of 87 cards, that con-
tained drawings of toys and games of boys, girls, and shared by
both, which were presented, after being randomly shuffled, 3
cards at a time, to 100 children (50 male and 50 female), aged 4
to 6 years, from São Paulo and Bahia. This was done to check
the relevance of each card and also the coverage of application
in various social and cultural contexts.
After that application and further analyses of frequency of
choice, some cards were dropped due to their inferior score, and
then the number of cards was reduced to 54, which were ap-
plied again the same way, but with a higher sample (300 chil-
dren). Again, analyses made, 3 cards were dropped, remaining
only the cards with higher frequency. It was used an answer
sheet, where the choices were recorded, based on the preference
of each child, and to facilitate this data record numbers were
assigned to each card, and this assignment was also random.
Next, aiming to verify whether the proposed cards and in-
structions presented were comprehensible (semantic analysis),
the instrument was applied in 148 children, aged 4 to 6 years,
from São Paulo and Bahia. Later, the same sample was re-
quested to answer one questionnaire to indicate who (boy, girl,
or both) usually play with the toy or game depicted by each
card, which also would give hints about the understanding of
Figure 1 below shows, as samples to illustrate the items, 3
cards from the final deck of the TAG: the ball (male), hide-
and-seek (for bot h ) , a n d a doll (female).
The sample used for validation was composed of 303 chil-
dren (171 boys and 132 girls) from the states of São Paulo and
Bahia, inserted in public or private schools (Tables 1 and 2),
mean age = 5.04 years, SD = 0.835 and scholar level varying
from kindergarten to 1st year of basic education (Table 3).
After compliance with ethical requirements approved by the
Ethical Committee of the Maria Milza College in Researches
with Human Beings (FAMAM)—Protocol nº 131/10, contact
was made with institutions located in the states of São Paulo
and Bahia that would cede space for the execution of this re-
search. It was only considered data from children under the
Sample cards from the final deck.
Participant’s sex distribution.
Sex FrequencyValid percentage Cumulated percentage
Male 171 56.4 56.4
Female 132 43.6 100.0
Total 303 100.0
Participant’s distribution by state.
Estate FrequencyValid percentage Cumulated percentage
Bahia 121 39.9 39.9
São Paulo 182 60.1 100.0
Total 303 100.0
Participant’s distribution by age.
Age FrequencyValid percentage Cumulate percentage
4 anos 99 32.7 32.7
5 anos 92 30.4 63.0
6 anos 112 37. 100.0
Total 303 100.
criteria for this research (age, in typical development, and not
showing any disability to understand what was being required)
and whose parents or caregivers had signed the consent form.
The instrument was administered individually, in a proper
place provided by the institution for this activity, which took 8
minutes on average.
Data treatment and statistical analyses were made using the
software SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, v.
17.0 for Windows). Initially it was ran an analysis of principal
components (PCA), without rotation and treating omissions
through pairwise, in order to verify the matrix factorability ge-
nerated and how many components could be extracted. The
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO), the Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity,
and the matrix correlation determinant were calculated, as well
as the scree-plot was analysed to identify the number of factors
to be extracted. Then, the factorial analysis was run through the
principal axis factoring (PAF) and oblimin rotation—as it al-
lows orthogonal factors, when existent, to appear, and it also
does not force dependence among factors, but only allows it.
Moreover, it was suppressed factorial charges lower than 0.30
to assure that each item would represent the underlying con-
struct to the factor. The Cronbach’s alpha was used to calculate
the precision (Pasquali & Primi, 2003; Pasquali, 2005).
The KMO measure of sampling adequacy and the Bartlett
test for Sphericity indicated that the data were suitable for fac-
Open Access 893
S. B. GAINO ET AL.
tor analysis, with the former having a value of 0.916 (Table 4),
considered to be excellent (Hair Jr. et al., 2005). Considering the
scree-plot (Figure 2) and th e eigenvalues—with values equal or
higher than 1—it is indicated to extract 2 factors, which explain
79.93% of total variance.
Through parallel analysis with the software Monte Carlo
analysis (Table 5), it was confirmed that could be extracted 2
factors (Kalos & Whitlock, 1986; Galvão, 2005). The first fac-
tor is related to gender identity and is composed by 34 items,
indicated as being representative by toys and games typically
played either by boys or girls, and the second factor related to
cards representing toys and games played by both composed by
17 items. The TAG had a Cronbach’s alpha equal to 0.92,
which is very good too.
Discussion and Conclusion
The objective of this study was to build and validate the
TAG, easy to use, which could be used in various contexts.
Thus, it was started with the assumption that the instrument
would be formed by a factor representative of what is to be a
girl or boy. However, the factor analysis indicated that the
items should be grouped in two factors: the first would be re-
KMO and Bartlett’s test of sphericity.
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Test (KMO) 0.916
Approx. Chi-Square 8508.230
Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity
Parallel analysis of M on te C a rlo.
Eigenvalues 1 2 3 (...)
Empirical 9.622 3.966 0.846 (...)
Aleatory 1.4373 1.3411 1.2704 (...)
lated to gender identity, understood as “features, behaviours,
and cultural meanings about belonging to feminine or mascu-
line” (Silva et al., 2006). The second factor was interpreted as
“neutral” cards—or for both genders—once it would involve
the possibility for children to choose cards that could represent
toys and games for both boys and girls, and how they act ac-
cording to their beliefs, in other words, how they test and ex-
perience the different roles existent on society, developing
skills giving rise to the appearance of toys and games that in-
creasingly mimic the “real world” and the games of rules (Vy-
gotsky, 1991). The “neutral” factor was represented by 17 cards
of the TAG.
Initially, the TAG was composed by eighty seven cards, but
thirty six were excluded, and then the final version stayed with
51 items. Such exclusion did not reduce the quality of its con-
tent, as some of these items had a correspondent among the
remaining cards. For instance, “rag doll”, which was eliminated,
had “barbie doll”, as a semantic correspondent to the concept of
The psychometric features of the TAG were considered sat-
isfactory, and it can contribute to both researches on this topic
as to assist monitoring the development of the concept of gen-
der identity and its relations to general development in children
considered under typical development, as much as in children
presenting delays or impairments in their development, includ-
ing supplementing information derived from other instruments.
The objective of validating an instrument of apperception
gender was achieved with solid psychometric standards. In this
study area expanding, which does not have a measurement tool
to assess the development of the concept of gender identity, the
TAG is an alternative for both empirical research and applied
work, with possible use in different contexts and populations.
Literature has often pointed to the importance of monitoring
the different factors involved in child development, not only as
a way of preventing and promoting health, but also as an at-
tempt to better understand the dynamics of the same. For the
construction of the TAG was considered: the indications of the
children themselves regarding their opinion to what they con-
sidered as toys or games for boys, girls or both, as well as the
perception they had on them, and discussions with and analyses
of professionals in Psychology, Psychiatry and Education. Thus,
the TAG aims to fill in some gaps in other assessment instru-
ments used with children, and therefore the TAG may also be
used as a tool to evaluate the influence of different development
environments as a whole, facilitating the understanding of cha-
racteristics, behavior and cultural meanings.
Despite the contributions the TAG can bring, some limita-
tions should be identified in its future uses. Obviously, because
it is a new instrument, whose items were based on interviews
with children, as well as in studies and research conducted to
date and which were based on direct or indirect observation of
play and toy choices made by boys and girls in various contexts,
the TAG has not indicated the effectiveness of its application in
other contexts involving different populations of children yet.
Future researches intending to evaluate the formation of the
concept of gender identity may be based on approaches that
guided the construction of the TAG, considering the different
categories that were used, which would result in other instru-
ments or scales that addressed one factor or multifactorial pa-
rameters most basic concern, as well as analysis of the items
(difficulty and discrimination), the validity and reliability of the
instrument (Pasquali, 2003).
S. B. GAINO ET AL.
Factors directly or indirectly associated to the concept of
gender identity could also be better explored by investigating in
greater detail the different environments of inclusion of chil-
dren, such as family environment, which according to Delgado
(2003) will play a role in the construction of gender identities.
The survey conducted by Cordazzo, Martins, Macarini & Vi-
eira (2007) regarding studies related to play and areas of con-
centration of these studies, confirms the need for further re-
search involving the evaluation of the importance of play for
the overall development of the child, besides investigations on
the play of children with different pathologies during its devel-
Thus, the TAG is presented as a new potential tool to re-
search and comprehend the notion of the concept of gender
identity. Nonetheless, further research should be conducted to
expand knowledge in this area and improvements in the in-
The cartoons composing the card deck were drawn by Eli-
zângela Matias (Belê) inspired by characters of social media.
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