Playing with Barbie could limit how girls view their career choices, according to Oregon State University.
Girls ages 4 to 7 participated in an experiment to explore the influence of fashion dolls. Researchers had them play with either a Barbie doll or a Mrs. Potato head. After a few minutes, the girls were asked if they could do any of 10 occupations when they grew up. They were also asked if boys could do those jobs.
Researchers reported girls who played with Barbie thought they could do fewer jobs than boys.
“Playing with Barbie has an effect on girls’ ideas about their place in the world,” said Aurora M. Sherman, an associate professor in the School of Psychological Science at OSU.
Those who played with Mrs. Potato Head dolls thought they could do about the same amount of jobs that boys could do.
Researchers say more study is needed to better understand fashion dolls’ effect on girls, but Sherman said for parents variety is key.
"The most important thing is to look at the child’s toy box and make sure there is a wide variety of toys to play with,” she said.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Sex Roles.