gender schema theory

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Gender Schema Theory Essay Plan
INTRODUCTION
· Child's understanding of gender needs only to be very basic to learn sex role
stereotypes and show strong preferences for gender appropriate behaviour/toys
etc.
· Bem (1981) and Martin and Halverson (1981) - child begins to form gender schema
as soon as they notice difference between male and female, as early as 18 months
SCHEMAS
· In group, out group schema - M&H (1981)
· Own sex schema - M&H (1981)
A01 FURTHER DETAIL
· Schemata develop to group information and form rules to understand complex world
· Help children understand where they ft and to develop self identity
· Begin identifying themselves as in group - behaviours associated with this viewed as
positive. Not part of the out group - negative
· Establish own group and learn more about both groups. As more information is learnt
schemas widen and become more complex. Develop `sex appropriate plans of
actions' which direct our behaviour
A02 EVALUATION
· Research points out children as young as two show knowledge of sex role
stereotypes - Kuhn et al (1978). Deterministic - suggesting by this age, we have this
level of understanding, predetermined rather than being learnt through external
influences
· Research support Martin and Little (1990) only basic knowledge needed for Sex role
stereotypes. Gave 2-5's novel objects labelled as "objects boys like" "objects girls
like" rated what they wanted to play with smiley face scale, strong sex type
preferences found.
· Research support Kuhn et al (1978) children recognise gender as permanent &
irreversible, own gender characteristics as positive, opposite as negative, evidence
of "in group, out group" schema
· Deterministic. Archer (1981) boys show stronger, earlier preferences for male
activities, more avoidant to opposite sex and associations to it. Girls more flexible
concepts - reasoning could be social, biological or evolutionary.
· Bem (1993) supports idea of different roles due to biological differences, already
predetermined not learnt as a cognitive process - against GST. Does not take into
consideration biological influences
· Nature / nurture Benenson et al (1998) highlights evolutionary factors - males
aggressive, hunters, competitive etc. Females support, care nurture etc. This is
however reductionist.

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