Psychology A2: All of GENDER notes

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Biological explanation of gender development
A01: There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in every cell of the body containing genetic codes that
determine the physical and behavioural characteristics of a person. One of these pairs is the sex
chromosome, which determines the biological sex of an individual. The key idea is that genes lead to
release of hormones that affect the development of genitalia. This then affects gender, as well as gender
identity. If an X chromosome from the ovum meets with an X chromosome from the sperm, then the
genetic sex of the child is female. If the X meets with Y, then the genetic sex is male. Initially, there are
no differences between foetuses as they have an undevloped mullerian system. However, when the
foetus is around 3 months, the presence of H-Y Androgen results in the development of male genitalia,
whereas a lack of this androgen leads to development of ovaries in females. This therefore explains how
genes determine how an individual acquires a particular sex. However, gender development doesn't
always follow this order, resulting in gender identity disorder.
A01: Genes are not the only factor affecting gender development, as hormones play an important role
too. Males release hormones responsible for masculinisation such as testosterone and
dihydrotestosterone, whereas females release different hormones such as oestreogen. Hormones are
released in two stages: Pre-natally, which influences the development of sex organs and the brain, and
post-natally, which activates the sex organs during puberty. Intersex individuals are those who recieved
abnormal amounts of hormones pre-natally. Genetically male embryos (XX) who are exposed to too
little hormones such as testosterone are likely to be born with female genitalia; this is called Androgen
Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). This can also occur for genetically female embryos (XY) who are exposed to
too much testosterone, resulting in ambiguous genitalia. This is called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
(CAH). Testosterone has also been found to affect brai development. Research has found that the more
testosterone a foetus is exposed to, the more masculine their brain will be. This shows how hormones
influence the development of both gender and the brain.
A02: STRENGTH// Case study of David Reimer by Money and Erhardt - Reimer's penis was accidently
burnt off during blotched circumsition, as a result his parents raised him as a girl named Brenda, with
the intention of acquiring the gender identity of a girl. However, Reimer didn't feel comfortable with his
gender, and upon learning the truth he reverted back to being male in his teenage years. This supports
the biological explanation are it suggests that despite being nurtured as a girl from 6 months, he still felt
'like a boy inside' e.g ripped off dress at age of 2. This shows how nature is more prominent than nature,
and that biological sex is the primary factor in the contribution to gender development.
A02: STRENGTH// Furthermore: David Reimer case study=methodological strength. Naturalistic setting
as he was brought up in his own home, therefore high in ecological validity. This means findings are
representative of a real life situation and have high degree of realism, which in turn supports genes and
hormones as biological explanations as they play a crucial role in real life situations.
A02: WEAKNESS// David Reimer study is an idiographic case study, which means findings are only
specific to the individual; David Reimer. This limits the population validity as findings cannot be
generalised; 1 person cannot be representative of a whole population. This therefore limits the

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This also means that we cannot be sure that biological sex is the primary factor
in gender development for everybody. Some people may be susceptible to social influences and some
may be happy with whatever gender they are raised as, therefore other factors should be considered.
A02: STRENGHT// Imperato-McGinley et al Batista Family: Four genetically male embryos (XX) were born
with female genitalia due to AIS.…read more

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Therefore, gender differences are more a product of biological inheritance rather than socialisation.
A01: One evolutionary explanation is division of labour (DOL), whereby men were assigned the role of
hunters, and women completed domestic work, which would've increased the packs chances of survival
and reproductive success. Men made better hunters as they were generally fitter and stronger; this DOL
reduced chances of starvation and meant women would not have been exposed to the dangers of
hunting.…read more

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Furthermore, Buss's study is highly diverse in terms of religion, culture and ethnicity. This makes findings
more generalisable as they are representative of a wider population. This means the explanation of
mate choice is applicable to many different cultures, further strenghtening the explanation...
A02: Methodological weakness: Buss uses self-report method - leaving study vulerable to demand
characteristics such as social desirability. We cannot be sure that all participants were honest in regards
to what they look for in marriage partners.…read more

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This suggests that the moment a child is labelled girl or boy they
are percieved and treated differently.
A02: Bradley et al: case study of genetic male whose penis was accidently damaged at a young age-
reassighnement surgery + nurtured as a girl. He exhibited some male behaviours but in general
preffered female company, as a result he percieved himself as a female and was happy with it. This
suggests that sex rearing/upbringing is more significant than biological factors, as Money and Erhardt
suggested.…read more

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A01: Biosocial theory Money and Erhardt
A02: Smith and Lloyd
A02: Bradley et al
A01: Social role theory Eagly and Wood
A02: Gender Empowerment measure (E+W)
A02: Luxen(2000)
A03: Social constructionist
A03: interaction nature/nurture
Gender Dysphoria - experience of feeling uncomfortable with the gender assigned at birth
A01: Mental illness: some psychologists claim that mentall ilness is related to gender dysphoria, which in
turn links to some childhoom trauma or maladaptive upbringing. Coates et al.…read more

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A02: Weakness/ Chung et al: noted that difference in sizes of BSTc's do not develop until adulthood,
whereas majority of transsexuals reported having feelings of GID from early childhood. This suggests
that size of BSTc cannot be a cause of GID, but can perhaps be and effect.
A02: Strength/ Rametti et al: studied brain of FtM transsexuals before starting transgender hormone
therapy.…read more

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They do not understand that
gender is stable throughout life.
Second stage// Gender stability which offurs between 3-4 years of age. Children learn that gender is
stable and won't change, however can still be misled by superficial changes to appearance e.g woman
shaves head bald=becomes a man
Third stage// Gender consistency 4-7 years old= During this stage children recognise that gender is
consistent across time and situation. E.g women shaves head bald=still woman.…read more

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For example, Kohlbergs GCT cannot explain the case study of David Reimer.
This suggests that there are other factors involved, therefore an interactionist approach should be
considered when explaining gender development.…read more

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As there is much research supporting the view that gender schemas develop at around 2 years old, we
can argue the theory is high in external reliability. This is because results are consistenly similar in
suggesting that gender schemas develop at a young age = this means results are less likely to be down to
chance, therefore we can assume the theory has some truth to it.
A02: In order to accept this explanation, must accept cognitive approach which is reductionist.…read more


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