A new study found that young girls around the age of 6 begin to associate boys, instead of their own gender, with being “really, really smart.”

The research was published in Science and looked at 400 children. Multiple psychological experiments were carried out to determine how kids in elementary school view intelligence between the genders.

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In one experiment, psychologist Lin Bian read a story to 240 kids between the ages of 5 and 7 about a person who is “really, really smart.” She then asked the kids to guess who was the protagonist, and showed a picture of two men and two women.

According to The Atlantic, results showed that the 5 year olds, both boys and girls, associated brilliance with their own gender. But, by the age of 6 or 7, both boys and girls saw males as the smarter gender.

In another experiment, researchers asked 160 kids between 6 and 7 about the appeal of two imaginary games, NPR reported. One was intended for "children who are really, really smart," and the other was for those "who try really, really hard." Results showed that girls were less interested than boys in the game for smart kids, but interest was similar in the other.

“They’d go from being really enthusiastic to saying: ‘Oh I don’t want to play it, this isn’t a game for me,’” Bian told The Atlantic.

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Moving forward, researchers are working to understand why and how these stereotypes occur.

Source: Bian L, Leslie S, Cimpian A. Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Science. 2016.

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