PSYA3 Gender

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The Role of Genes and Hormones
The role of genes in gender development
Each person has 23 pairs of chromosomes. These carry genes containing instructions about physical and
behavioural characteristics. The sex chromosome determine the individuals sex, i.e. XX or XY.
There is usually a direct link between and individuals chromosomal sex and external genitalia.
During prenatal development ass individuals start out the same a few weeks after conception both male
&female embryos have feminine looking genitalia.
Then the foetus is about 3 months old, if it is to be a male, the testes normally produce testosterone which
causes male genitalia to develop.
(+) (Reiner and Gearhart, 2004) Of 16 males who were born with almost no penis, 2 were raised as males
and remained male, and 8 of 14 raised as female reassigned themselves as male before the age of 16.
() (Money and Ehrhardt, 1972) suggest biological sex is not the main factor and socialisation is more
(+) However, the David Reimer study did not support the above^.
() Naturenurture debate which is more important, socialisation or genetic factor?
The role of hormones in gender development
Chromosomes initially determine a person's sex but most gender development is actually governed by
hormones. These a produced both prenatally and in adolescence. Hormones influence the development of
genitalia and/ or affect the development of the brain , both of which influence gender behaviour.
Development of genitalia
Normally external genitalia are in accord with genetic sex. However, in some cases a genetic male embryo
is exposed to too little male hormone and the result is that the newborn appears externally to be female
(Androgen insensitivity syndrome, AIS).
Genetic females may be exposed prenatally to relatively large doses of male hormones e.g. when mothers
have been given drugs containing male hormones. The result is ambiguous genitalia (swollen labia resembling a
() Research indicates that when XX females have prenatally high levels of male hormones resulting in
varying degrees of external male genitalia, whatever gender is assigned at birth seems to be accepted by some
individuals and not others. This gender development is in part biologically determined but experience, personal
qualities and socialisation also have a key role.
() Naturenurture debate
Brain development
Male and female brains are very different e.g. girls generally appear better with social skills, such as
empathising, where as boys are better at social navigation.
(Geschwind and Galaburda, 1987) suggested that sex differences may be caused by the effects of
testosterone levels on the developing brain. Male brains are exposed prenatally to more testosterone than
females and this leads to a more masculinised brain. If the brain of a genetic female is exposed to testosterone
prenatally the effect may be a masculinised brain. This can explain why girls exposed prenatally to male
hormones grow up to be tomboyish.
(+) May explain why David Reimer 'felt' he was a boy even though we was raised as a girl.
(+) (Quandagno et al., 1977) female monkeys exposed to testosterone during prenatal development
engaged in more roughandtumble play than other females and were more aggressive.
(+) (Hines) females born to mothers with testosterone injections to stop miscarriages, were more
aggressive than normal females.
(+) Realworld application The international Olympics committee used to test the genetic sex of all
athletes and excluded all but XX females and XY males. This meant that AIS individuals couldn't compete.
In 1991 there was a ruling that genetic sex would no longer determine entry to the games. Individuals are
now only excluded from the women's events if they are obviously physically male. Thus, genetic sex no longer
determines gender.

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Evolutionary Explanation
Mate choice
The key to adaptive behaviour is reproductive success.
Men look for partners who are physically attractive and women look at the resources their partner can
Evolutionary theory suggests that women are most concerned about resources whereas men select
women who are fertile and healthy.
Women will seek to enhance attractiveness, men will advertise their status.
(+) (Buss, 1989) looked at what males and females look for in a partner.…read more

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Meat sharing hypothesis: When humans turned from vegetarians to meat eaters, men became hunters due
to selective pressures (Hill and Kaplan, 1988) in modern huntergatherer societies men used meat as a means
of gaining access to women.
Determinism: evolutionary psychologists suggest that genes only predispose us to behave in certain ways
but this does not dictate what individuals choose to do.…read more

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Luxen, 2007) Evolutionary theory can explain this in a simpler theory. Behaviour is at least as
important as physical characterism and therefore selective pressure would act directly on behaviour to create
psychological as well as sex differences.…read more

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The brainsex theory
Based on the fact that male and female brains are different and perhaps transsexuals brains do not match
their genetic sex.
One average the male BSTc, located in the thalamus, is twice as large than in women and contains twice
as many neurons. It may be that the size of the BSTc correlates with preferred sex rather than biological.
(+) (Rametti et al., 2011) studies the brains of FtM transsexuals before they started transgender hormone
therapy.…read more

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Children realise that gender is consistent across time and situations. When a child has acquired gender
constancy, they will then learn about genderappropriate behaviour.
(+) (Slaby and Frey, 1975) children aged 25 years old were shown a silent film with 1 male and 1 female
on a split screen carrying out stereotypical activities. Children high in gender constancy showed greater
interest in samesex models.
() Slaby and Frey, 1975) gender constancy appeared at a younger age than Kohlberg suggested, as
young as 5.…read more

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Bradberd et al., 1986) when 4 9 year olds were told that a neutral toys was either a boy or girls toy
they took greater interest in the ingroup toys. One week later they remembered more details about ingroup
objects. Suggesting, schemas are particularly related to memory.
Resilience of gender beliefs
GST can explain the power of gender beliefs. Gender beliefs lead children to hold very fixed gender
attitudes because they ignore any information they encounter that it not consistent with ingroup information.…read more

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The influence of peers
They offer a model of genderlinked behaviours and provide feedback when an individual steps outside what
is accepted as 'appropriate' behaviour for that gender.
(Lamb and Roopnarine, 1979) observed preschool children at play and found that when maletyped
behaviour was reinforced in girls the behaviour was reinforced in boys. Showing that peer reinforcement mainly
acts as a reminder.
The influence of the media
It is pivotal in communicating cultural stereotypes as a source of social influence.…read more

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Cultural variations: Magnitude of sex differences
There are also some significant variations, which Mead described as cultural relativism.
(Berry et al., 2002) found that male superiority is only found in relatively tight knit, sedentary societies, but
absent or even reversed in 'looser' nomadic societies.
The same pattern emerges with conformity. Across cultures there is a general consensus that women are
more conformist than men. However, this varies considerably.
(Berry et al.…read more




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