Dr Paola Escudero and researchers from MARCS BabyLab have found that baby boys prefer objects with faces over machines, challenging the theory of an innate preference among babies for 'girly' or 'macho' toys.
Paola and other researchers working on the project gauged the preferences of four and five month old babies by showing them pictures of male and female humans and dolls, as well as cars and stoves.
Researchers then measured how long their gaze lingered on the objects, and calculated their preferences based on how long they were fixated upon each image.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, found that like baby girls, baby boys were more willing to engage with dolls than cars.
"As surprising as it may sound, although the thing to do is to buy dolls for girls and cars for boys, the science suggests boys actually prefer dolls," Dr Escudero told the University of Western Sydney.
"Everyone loves buying dolls for baby girls and cars and trucks for baby boys, it's simply what we do."
"This common knowledge is supported by previous studies finding that three-year-old boys prefer to play with transportation and construction toys whereas girls prefer to play with dolls".
"However, using state-of-the-art eye-tracking technology, we found that these gender-specific preferences are not present at five months, indicating that they are the result of physiological changes (e.g. their hormone levels), cognitive development or social pressure."
A news report on the study was published on the UWS website, while a report on the study was aired by Network Ten News on Sunday, 10 November, 2013.
You can watch the Ten News report in the video above.
You can find out more about research conducted at MARCS BabyLab by visiting our research page.