Essay on the role of genes and hormones

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Sadhia Malik Psychology Essay
Discuss the role of hormones and or genes in gender development (8+16
Gender refers to a person's sense of who they are their sense of maleness or
femaleness. The biological approach suggests that gender is determined by
chromosomes and hormones, and that this influences our gender. This essay will look
into further detail as to whether it is the genes and/ or hormones that affect gender
Each person has 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each chromosome contains hundreds of genes which
contain instructions about the physical and behavioural characteristics (e.g. eye colour). Females
XX, males XY, sex determined by father's sperm. Half of sperm contains an X
chromosome, half Y chromosome. As all female's eggs contain X chromosomes sex is
determined by which sperm fertilises the ovum. Y chromosome determines
development of glands which produces male androgens (sex hormones). There is usually a
direct link between genetic sex and external genitalia.
But there is one problem that may arise known as Androgen insensitivity syndrome, this is when the
males who are not responsive to testosterone grow to be a female but is genetically male, this may
affect the development of his external genitalia.
There is criticizing evidence by John Money said that it wasn't biology that influenced gender
development however it was nurture as well. This was supported by Reiner and Gearhart that
studies 16 genetic males, raised as females. By the age of 16, 8 had reassigned themselves as males,
and the other 6 remained females. This supports that it is both nurture and nature that influences
gender development. However, these studies can cause ethical issues as researchers are using
intersex individuals which can be more vulnerable than "normal" individuals. It is also a reductionist
approach as it reduces our behaviours and gender down to biology, however doesn't take into
account the behavioural approach which suggests we learn behaviours, and gender through indirect
The role of hormones in gender development suggests that during prenatal development, all
individuals begin the same with external genitalia that look essentially feminine. It is the production of
hormones that then determine whether the embryo is male or female. Hormones influence the
development of gentialia and affect the brain development ­ both affect gender behaviour.
There is supporting evidence by Reimer case study backs up biology. Money Reimer's case study
backed up the biological point of view, as he failed to turn a boy into a girl psychologically. He
claimed that his theory failed because of his twin brother and therefore was exposed to testosterone
externally, also he blamed the parents for the way they treated Bruce when he turned into Brenda.
This shows that it is not just the biology that matters but also the upbringing.

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Sadhia Malik Psychology Essay
Supporting evidence by Quadagno (1977) conducted a study on female monkeys by exposing them
to prenatal testosterone, and found that they engaged in more rough and tumble play than other
females, and were more aggressive. A third supporting evidence by Reiner and Gearhart (2004)
studied 16 genetic males who were born with almost no penis. 14 of them were raised as males, and
by the age of 16, 8 had reassigned themselves as male.…read more


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