Gender notes - Psychology AQA B

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Difference between sex and gender
Sex versus gender
Sex refers to whether an individual is female or male. Sex relates to the physical differences between men and women. It may refer to chromosomal sex
and therefore can be determined by DNA. Sex is fixed and therefore cannot be changed.
Gender refers to whether an individual is masculine, feminine or androgynous. Gender relates to the differences in the attitudes or behaviours between
men and women. Gender is culturally determined and may change with changing attitudes over time.
Androgynous = displaying roughly equal levels of masculine and feminine traits/behaviours.
Whether a person is androgynous or just feminine or just masculine can be assessed by questionnaires or inventories.
Inventory = a list of statements used to test for certain characteristics
Bem compiled one of the most well- known inventories for measuring gender.

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If sex is whether an individual is male or female then it is decided at conception when a sperm fertilises an egg. A newly formed foetus has the
chromosomes that determine whether it will be born a boy or a girl. Whether it is born with masculine or feminine traits is much more open to debate.
If sex is generic, then it follows that an individual's sex is fixed. `Sex changes' do not really change a person's sex.…read more

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The nature-nurture debate
The two main arguments are that gender is innate (present at birth) or it has been learnt.
These two different perspectives represent a famous debate that occurs throughout psychology: the nature-nurture debate.
Nature argument
The nature side of the debate states that gender is biological. This would explain the strong relationship between a person's sex and their gender. Males
are born masculine and females are born feminine.…read more

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Nurture argument
The nurture side of the nature-nurture debate states that gender is essentially a product of socialisation.
Socialisation = a process whereby individuals are taught and encouraged to adopt certain values and roles.
The extreme nurture view would suggest that gender related behaviour is entirely determined by social and cultural factors ­ our experiences and the
environment in which we live.…read more

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Aim: To investigate the similarities and differences across gender roles in different cultures.
Method: Mead carried out a detailed ethnographic (scientific description of specific cultures) study by living with various tribes.
She lived with various tribes in New Guinea for 6 months.
Results: In the Arapesh tribe, both sexes were feminine, for example caring, expressive, arrogant and co-operative.
Both parents were said to `bear a child' which meant the men also took to bed while the baby was born.…read more

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Both parents detested childcare so much that sleeping babies were hung out of the way in dark places.
In the Tchambuli tribe, gender roles were reversed compared to Western society.
Females were very independent and took care of trading.
Meanwhile males sat around in groups, gossiping and preening themselves. It was the males who were considered sentimental and
not capable of making serious decisions.
Conclusion: Gender roles depend on culture.…read more

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Ecologically valid ­ the observation took Observer effect ­ the presence of Mead
place in the tribes' natural setting of New may have changed the behaviours of the
Guinea tribes being studied which would produce
Empirical evidence can be used to show demand characteristics
that gender is not universal and must Cultural bias ­ Mead was a westerner who
therefore incorporate aspects of nature may not have understood the behaviours
being observed in a different culture
Observer bias ­ Mead may have imposed
her own…read more

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If behaviour is a product of human nature, then it should occur across the world regardless of experience and upbringing. For example, sleeping is a
natural behaviour and is therefore universal (occurring around the world).
Cross cultural research is useful for investigating the nature/nurture debate in relation to gender differences. Researchers are able to provide insight
into different cultural systems, beliefs and practises as they can experience more than one culture.…read more



Hi, I am doing gender for my Unit 3 (A2) exam, I was just wondering if these notes are still suitable? Seen that these notes are for AS so just want to make sure I'm doing the right topic areas!! Thanks

Lauren Stubbs

These notes are based on the AQA Psychology B spec at AS :)

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