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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…

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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

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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…

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happens in the homes. 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…

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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…

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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

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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.


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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…

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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…

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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


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