PSYB1 Gender development

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Gender development
Sex and gender
Sex (physicality) = male/ female
Gender (attitudes and behaviours) = masculine/ feminine/ androgynous
Displaying roughly equal amounts of masculine and feminine traits
Bem (1974)
Bem aimed to construct an inventory that measured masculinity, femininity, and
androgyny. 20 traits were chosen out of 200 for both masculinity and femininity.
Over 1000 students then tested these traits, where they had to rate themselves
from 1-7 on each trait. The inventory then proved to be valid when compared to
the participant's own description of their gender identity.
A smaller sample of students where then tested a month later and got similar
scores, indicating the reliability of the inventory.
Bem found that men often score higher on masculine traits and females on
feminine traits. However, many people were more androgynous than at the
extremes. A small number of people scored low on each trait and were said to be
The inventory requires people to have an insight of their own personality, which
not all people have. People may also exaggerate to give socially desirable
answers. However, the inventory was confidential, which increases the
likelihood of honest answers.
Sex versus gender
A person who desires to be the opposite sex
Gender identity
An individual's perception of his or her own masculinity/ femininity
Imperato-Mcginley et al. (1979)
This study aimed to demonstrate that an individual can change their gender role
and identity. A case study on 18 males part of the same extended family in the
Dominican Republic. They were born with a hormone deficiency, giving the
appearance of female genitalia and so were raised as females. They adopted
feminine identity up until puberty. Hormones caused them to develop male
Following the transformation all of the males adopted a masculine identity with
ease. This means that gender is flexible as the individuals were able to fully
embrace their gender role.

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However, the sample was small and so may not be generalisable, especially
across western cultures and this research was carried out in the Dominican
Republic. Also, the researchers did not meet the participants until adulthood and
so had to rely on retrospective accounts of their experiences. This means that
they could not reliably state that the boys had confidently adopted a feminine
role before puberty.…read more

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Gender is a product of socialisation/ environmental experiences
Most boys learn masculine behaviours, most girls learn feminine
All babies are born a blank slate `tabula rasa' ­ John Locke
Sex-role stereotyping
Agents of socialisation
Parents, peers, the education system etc.
Sex-role stereotyping involves treating females and males differently according
to a set of expectations.
Furnham and Farragher (2000)
They aimed to demonstrate that sex-role stereotyping is used as part of British
television advertising.…read more

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Also, their may be a lack of temporal-validity to these
findings as parents may now treat their sons an daughters more equally due to
strong ideas of equality in today's society.
Diamond and Sigmundson (1997)
They aimed to investigate the role of biology in the development of gender roles.
The case of an 8-month-old baby who lost his penis during a routine
circumcision was reviewed. The parents decided to reassign the baby's gender.…read more

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Biological explanations of gender development
The biological explanations of gender development emphasise the effects of
genetics and hormones. This gives strong support to nature.
Why are males and females innately different?
Different genes will trigger different hormones, for example men carry the gene
for high levels of testosterone, and women carry the gene for oestrogen.
The effect of chromosomes
Male = XY
Female = XX
6 weeks after conception, the embryo's gonads will begin to develop.…read more

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Lack of interest in sexual activity
Poor language skills and poor reading ability
SLT would argue that gender is not a product of nature. If men and
women are biologically similar, why do they not behave in consistent
ways? Gender-related behaviours depend upon unique learning
The cognitive approach would argue that biological explanations are too
reductionist. They would argue that we have to understand thought
processes behind gender development.…read more

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Social learning theory
SLT sates that gender is learnt from others. There are no psychological
differences between males and females when they are born.
Smith and Lloyd (1978)
Smith and Lloyd aimed to investigate whether mothers acted differently towards
a baby depending on the perceived sex of that baby.
32 mothers were told that the study was investigating play and videotaped
playing with young babies. Sex-typed and sex-neutral toys were available for
play.…read more

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Biological explanations would argue that gender is innate. When parents
raise their children in non-stereotypical ways, their children will still
show gender-typical preferences.
The cognitive approach would argue that gender develops in stages,
whereas SLT argues that gender development can occur at any point in an
individual's life, depending upon their experiences. The cognitive
approach has been able to demonstrate that certain elements of gender
are acquired at certain points in a child's lifetime regardless of their
experiences.…read more

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Cognitive explanations of gender development
Kohlberg's cognitive-developmental theory
Stage Age Description
Gender identity 2-3 years Able to identify
own sex
Able to identify
the sex of others
Gender stability 3-4 years Able to
understand that
their own gender
and that sex is
Gender constancy 4-7 years Able to
understand that
gender is
Able to
understand that
everyone stays
the same sex
All stages are universal.…read more

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The findings showed that young children just moving into the gender constancy
stage only saw their own sex stable under change. Older children had fully
developed gender constancy, as they understood sex always stays the same.
This experiment may lack ecological validity as it used to artificial task to
investigate gender constancy.
Gender schema theory
Gender schema theory suggests that children establish their gender identity and
then search their environment to develop gender schemas.
Gender schemas firstly come in the form of stereotypes e.g.…read more


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