Gender Whole Topic Notes

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  • Created on: 31-05-14 08:43
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The Role of Genes and Hormones:
Each individual has 23 pairs of chromosomes in every cell of their body where each of these carries hundreds of genes
containing instructions on physical and behavioural characteristics. One pair of chromosomes in particular is
responsible for determining the individuals sex i.e. XX for females and XY for males. There is a direct link between a
person's chromosomal sex (whether they are XX or XY) and their external genitalia and internal genitalia. Until week 6 of
development in the womb, both foetuses have identical sex glands which have the potential to develop further into
either ovaries or testes.
Reiner and Gearhart (2004) studies 16 genetic males born with almost no penis ­ 2 were raised as males and
the rest were raised as females. They found that those who were raised as males remained this way and of the
14 raised as females, 8 reassigned themselves as male by the age of 16. This suggests that biological factors
have an impact on gender development however, 6 out of 14 remained female which indicates that for gender
development biology may not be the determining factor.
Money and Ehrhardt (1972) said that biological sex was nor the main factor in gender development. However,
they were proved wrong with the David Reimer case study. David was a genetic male and after a botched
circumcision resulting in his penis being burnt off, his parents decided to nurture him as a girl (Brenda) with the
intention that she would develop the gender identity of a female. However, never feeling comfortable with
being female, Brenda, reverted back to her original gender as a male. This goes against nurture (where despite
being raised as a girl, David still felt male) and shows evidence that biological sex is the primary factor in
contributing to gender development. The study was done in a natural setting gives the study high ecological
validity as it represents a real life situation and this strengthens the biological view on gender development ­
we are sure genes and hormones have a role in development in real life. As this is a case study, the findings
are only specific to the individual, which results in low population validity and it means that we can't generalise
the findings to the rest of the population ­ one person cannot be representative. This means that we can't be
sure that biological sex is the primary factor in gender development for everyone where others may be more
susceptible to social influences.
Diamond and Sigmundson (1997) suggested that genetic sex is important in the development of gender identity
- this was based on the Davie Reimer case study
Chromosomes initially determine a person's sex but most gender development depends on hormones which are
produced both prenatally and in adolescence. Hormones influence the development of genitalia and affect the
development of the brain ­ both of which influence gender behaviour. The role of hormones in gender development
can be seen in intersex individuals who receive abnormal levels of hormones prenatally. Genetically male embryos that
are exposed to little male hormones such as testosterone can appear to have female genitalia at birth (androgen
Insensitivity syndrome, AIS) and this can also happen to genetically female embryos exposed to too much testosterone
resulting in ambiguous genitalia.
Imperato-McGinley et al (1979) did a case study on the Batista family where 4 genetically male foetuses were
born with external female genitalia (due to AIS) and were raised as girls until puberty when testosterone levels
increased and their male genitalia began to develop. All girls accepted their sex change and this provides
support for the role of hormones and genes as they felt comfortable switching back to their genetically and
hormonally determined sex.
Berenbaum and Bailey (2003) found that females with ambiguous genitalia are often interested in male type
activities and are tomboyish presumably because of the influence of male hormones
Testosterone has been found to affect brain development and it is suggested that the more testosterone a foetus is
exposed to during gestation, the more masculine their brain will be. If the brain of a genetic female is exposed to
testosterone prenatally it may result in a masculinised brain.
Quadagno et al (1977) found that female monkeys deliberately exposed to testosterone during prenatal
development later engaged in more rough-and-tumble play that other females. An issue with this study is that
we cannot extrapolate the findings to humans however; it would be unethical to do this on humans.

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Geschwind and Galaburda (1987) found that sex differences may be caused by the effects of testosterone
levels on the developing brain. Exposure to male hormones creates a masculinised brain.
AO2 Evaluation Points:
Deterministic: this approach is all about biological determinism of gender where it states that our genetic makeup
determines our gender however, it can't explain the cases where an individual is genetically one sex but feels that
they should be the other sex.
Sample sizes: the research uses very select samples which are small.…read more

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This provides a real world application of the division of labour
and the different gender roles between men and women.
Mate Choice:
Many gender role behaviours are linked to mate choice which has the effect of trying to maximise the reproductive
success of the group. Males and females have different mating strategies looking for different things where males look
for partners who are physically more attractive and females are more interested in the resources their partner is able to
provide.…read more

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Deterministic: The evolutionary approach assumes that all behaviour is pre-determined and that our genes
determine the gender roles we take on. It also fails to consider that there are other factors such as social influences
(whether it is cultural influences or personal preference) which could also affect the gender roles we take.…read more

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Mate Choice: What men and women look for in a partner is related to social roles rather than their reproductive
value. The physical differences lead to different social roles i.e. men are the providers and women take on
domestic roles. Women maximise their outcomes by selecting a man who is a good wage earner, and men
maximise their outcomes by seeking a female who is successful in the domestic role.
3.…read more

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­ they are still influenced by external
a. Slaby and Fray (1975) found that when children were asked "when you were a baby were you a boy or a
girl?" and "when you grow up will you be a mummy or a daddy?" children didn't recognise these traits
were stable over time until they were three or four years.
b.…read more

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Martin and Little (1990) found young children (under the age of 4) showed strong stereotypes but no gender
stability or constancy. This suggests that they are acquiring information about gender roles before Kohlberg
suggested therefore providing support for the gender schema theory.
Martin and Halverson (1983) found that when children were asked to recall pictures of people, children under the
age of six recalled more of the gender-consistent ones (such as a male fire-fighter) than the gender-inconsistent
ones (such as a male nurse).…read more

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This explanation states that gender dysphoria is a mental illness as a result of childhood trauma or maladaptive
Coates et al (1991) produced a case study of a boy who developed gender identity disorder. They said this was a
defence reaction to his mother having depression which happened when he was 3 (when children are gender
sensitive). This suggests that the trauma may have led to a cross-gender fantasy as a means of resolving anxiety.…read more

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Recent findings have found that differences in BSTc between males and females do not become apparent
until adulthood, where most transsexuals report feelings of gender dysphoria in early childhood. This
suggests that differences in BSTc sizes aren't the cause of gender dysphoria but may be an effect.
AO2 Evaluation Points:
Real World Applications: research into gender dysphoria is important in providing information about the effects of
incorrect sex assignments and determining the best solutions for it.…read more

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The main sources of influence come from parents, peers, schools and the media. They may involve direct and/or
indirect reinforcement as well as modelling.
1. The influence of parents: parents reinforce behaviour that they deem to be gender-appropriate in their children.
This is often done by differential reinforcement where children are rewarded for gender-appropriate behaviour and
are not rewarded for any other behaviour. For example, parents will reward girls e.g.…read more


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