"Why Do Boys Like Sticks?" That is title of a piece by Slate writer, Daniel Engbe. As he puts it in his article: “Whether it be walking down a hiking trail with a stick they picked up or running a stick across a white picket fence, boys … seem to have a knack for having a stick. Is there some kind of explanation for this behavior?”
The stick, was in 2008, added to the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester (full disclosure: I am a voting member but was not involved with the stick) so it is an excellent question for us who reflect on toys and their impact on society and culture.
The article ponders the nature versus nurture question, i.e. do boys like sticks more than girls and if they do is it built into their DNA? It also considers some theories regarding animals, color, culture hardness and shape.
What stuck out at me in reading the article, however, was not any particular theory but that they are, just that, theories. As the article puts it: “…There hasn't been much empirical work relevant to this question [why boys like sticks], so we can't say for sure whether boys are more inclined than girls to play with sticks, or whether boys prefer sticks to other objects.”
My question is why hasn’t there been a study? Articles like this shed a little light, just a little. We need more. PhD students: “Here is a good topic for a dissertation.”