Psychology AQA A2 Detailed Gender Notes

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: niharie
  • Created on: 20-08-14 10:38
Preview of Psychology AQA A2 Detailed Gender Notes

First 564 words of the document:

One biological influence on gender is the role of genes in gender development. Everybody has 23
pairs of chromosomes in their body which contain genes. Each of these chromosomes carries
hundreds of genes containing instructions about physical and behavioural characteristics, such as eye
colour and predisposition to certain mental illnesses. One pair of these chromosomes is called the sex
chromosomes as they code for which sex you are. Males are XY and females are XX. It is the XY in a
male that distinguishes between the two sexes. Chromosomes are found to have an impact on a
person's external and internal genitalia. There is usually a direct link between an individual's
chromosomal sex and their external genitalia and internal genitalia.
At the start of prenatal development all individuals start out the same. A few weeks after conception
both male and female embryos have external genitalia that look essentially feminine. Then, around 3
months into the pregnancy if it is to develop as a male, the testes will begin to produce testosterone
which causes the external male genitalia to develop. Genetic transmission explains how individuals
acquire their sex and it may also explain some aspects of gender (whether a person feels male or
female) because of the link between genes and genitalia and hormones.
Even though chromosomes initially determine a person's sex, most gender development is actually
governed by hormones. The development of genitalia and the development of the brain is affected
by hormone influences. The role of hormones in gender development can be seen by studying
individuals who have been exposed prenatally to abnormal hormone levels.
Male brains are different from female brains in many ways. GESCHWIND ET AL were the first to
suggest that such sex differences may be caused by the effects of testosterone levels on the
developing brain. Hormones can also be used to explain the differences between sexes with brain
development. Male brains are normally exposed prenatally to more testosterone than females.
When this is not the case and girls are exposed to high levels of testosterone then they will often
develop a "masculine" brain.
The effects of testosterone on the brain have been confirmed by animal studies. QUADANGO ET AL
(1977) found that female monkeys who were deliberately exposed to testosterone during prenatal
development engaged in more rough and tumble play and were more aggressive, suggesting the
importance of hormones.
YOUNG (1966) gave male hormones to female mice and vice versa and found that there was a
reversal in normal gender related behaviour.
Obvious and subtle differences between humans and animals in terms of out physiological, anatomy
and metabolism make it difficult to apply data derived from animal studies to human conditions.
However animal studies provide the opportunity to gain more information as with a topic like this,
humans cannot be used for conducting research.
There are many studies that support the effect of hormones on gender development. For example
DEADY ET AL found that high levels of salivary testosterone were linked with low scores on
measures of maternal personality in biological females. This suggests that testosterone makes the

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Although some suggest that the testosterone may affect the levels of other
hormones which many affect maternal personality. Therefore the relationship may not be causal.
REINER suggested that our biology plays a vital role in determining out gender development. He
studied 16 genetic males born with almost no penis. Two were raised as males and the remaining 14
were raised as females. Of these 14, eight has reassigned themselves as males by the age of 16.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Another problem is that much of the research in this area is done to people with intersex conditions.
The results of these studies should therefore only be applied to the general population with caution
as they may only be applicable to people with intersex conditions. Research into such personal and
potentially painful issues has the potential to cause psychological harm, an ethical issue which should
be avoided.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

BARON-COHEN found that only 17% of men had a female empathising brain and the same
percentage of women had a male systematising brain. This could show individual differences, in
addition this research shows alpha bias, this theory sees there to be real and enduring differences
between male and females.
KUHN ET AL (2006) suggest that the division of labour may have been the reason why humans
survived, whereas the Neanderthals died out.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

To be a comprehensive theory, it would have to account for the influence of such factors
on our behaviour.
The theory is also extremely deterministic. It states that gender roles are biologically inevitable and
disregards the role of free will in breaking stereotypical roles. For example, it cannot explain how
women are successful; stating that they should be nurturing children and advertising themselves to
Some cross-cultural studies contradict the theory.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

This means that
psychological sex differences are seen as the consequences of the different roles to which men and
women are assigned. Social role theory argues that physical differences between men and women
allow them to perform certain tasks more efficiently. For example men's upper body strength makes
them more suitable for hunting. Mate choices can also be explained by different social roles: each
sex will seek a partner who fulfils the social roles that they themselves do not.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

Such evidence may not be relevant to
understanding normal gender development.
The more specific assertion of MONEY ET AL (1972) that in the first two-and-a-half to three years a
child's sense of itself is flexible enough to allow its sexual label to be changed without undue
disturbance is now somewhat discredited, especially in light of the Reimer case.…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

Gender Dysphoria is a condition in which people are uncomfortable with the gender to which they
are assigned. In the extreme, this can lead to transsexualism, a desire to change gender. Gender
dysphoria is more common in boys, but occurs across both sexes.
One psychological explanation is that gender dysphoria is caused by childhood trauma or a
maladaptive upbringing. COATES ET AL studied one boy who developed gender dysphoria.…read more

Page 9

Preview of page 9

Here's a taster:

ZUCKER ET AL studied 115 boys with concerns about their gender identity and their mothers. Of the
boys who were eventually diagnosed with GID, 64% were also diagnosed with separation anxiety
disorder, compared to only 38% of the boys who symptoms were subclinical. This points to some
kind of disordered attachment to a mother as a factor in GID.
In some cases it has been suggested that persistently dressing a young boy in girl's clothing or vice
versa may cause transsexualism.…read more

Page 10

Preview of page 10

Here's a taster:

The first stage is known as "gender labelling" or "basic gender identity". This occurs between 1.5 and
3 years, and refers to a child's recognition of being male or female. Kohlberg understood that this
recognition allows us to understand and categorise the world. This knowledge is fragile, with "man",
"woman" ,"girl" and "boy" meaning little more that labels, equivalent to personal names. Children
sometimes use incorrect labels at this age e.g. they may believe that a person can change gender.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »