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Sadhia Malik Psychology essay
Describe and evaluate social influences on gender (8+16 Marks)
Social learning theory attempts to explain gender through social factors, these factors include
Bandura's SLT which states that behaviour is learnt through observation and imitation. Children
learn their gender role through three models modelling, enactive behaviour and direct tuition.
The first model modelling explains how children can distinguish between a male and a female, but
also tells the differences and similarities in behaviour, this is then a guide to their own behaviour.
There is supporting evidence for the first model modelling, by Bandura he is the main source of
evidence for both learning and modelling. The Bobo doll studies are a very good example which
reveals the effect of an adult model on children's aggressive behaviour. This shows a clear indication
that modelling is a major social influence on gender. On the other hand, there is subsidiary evidence
by Perry and Bussey for modelling they found that children imitate the same sex models behaviour.
For example, when a male was eating an apple, the young boy was far more likely to imitate the
same gender than a female eating a banana this demonstrates the effect of modelling on gender
development. However, the children only model the same sex behaviour as long as the behaviour
was not influenced by gender stereotype. This shows that modelling is limited by one factor existing
stereotype. It would appear that the first model modelling is a valid form of indirect reinforcement.
There is also another supporting evidence for the first model modelling, by Bandura and Bussey,
they found that not all children carry out both sexes' activities, for example boys may not cook
although they observe this activity many times. However this study is a reductionist, as it does not
take into account the biological aspects, and the fact that genetic and hormonal balances may also
affect the way we behave.
The second model enactive behaviour suggests that when a child is young the child learns to
experience related to their activity. Social interaction with other people is an important source of
gender role information. The third model direct tuition refers to explicit instructions and appropriate
gender behaviour. This begins when the child acquires language skills. One limitation is that parents
and teachers do not always practise what they preach therefore this contradicts what the model
states. This direct tuition theory is supported by Martin, who found out that boys only play with toys
labelled `boys toys' and not `girls toys' no matter who played with it, even if they saw other boys
playing with them. This defines the direct tuition theory and suggests that direct tuition has a greater
impact in influencing gender role behaviour. However, the impact of direct tuition was reduced when
instructors teaching were denied for what they modelled. However this theory is strongly supported
by the nurture idea that we learn through interactions with others, and this theory of direct tuition
explains that we learn while we are being brought up.
Gender role is influenced by many sources of social influence such as parents. Parents often have
fixed views on what is appropriate for males and females, therefore creating differential
reinforcements. For example, a father is more likely to act in negative way to a son if he is behaving
in a feminine way than a mother is. There is supporting evidence by Smith and Lloyd for the
influence of parents on gender role, they found that a mother played with an infant presented as a
boy were more likely to select gender appropriate toys, they were also more likely to act different
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Sadhia Malik Psychology essay
when a boy showed increased motor skills, than if a girl was too. However this study is lab based,
and because of this we cannot compare it to a real life situation clearly lacking reliability.
Strength of parental influence is that there is sufficient evidence supporting differential reinforcement,
one of them is by Faggot et al they found that parents who showed the clearest patterns of
differential reinforcement have children who are the quickest to develop gender preferences.…read more