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Sex and Gender
Sex identity- A biological term, a child's sex identity can be identified by their hormones
and chromosomes. Whether they are male or female
Gender identity- A psychological term, identified by their attitudes and behaviour-
determines whether they are masculine or feminine
Psychodynamic theory of gender development
Gender development in boys:
A boy is unconsciously attracted to his mother, and is jealous of his father and wants to take his place.
He becomes anxious that his father will find out his feelings and castrate him- this is the Oedipus
complex. He is torn between the love he has for is mother and the fear he has of his father, in order
to resolve this conflict he gives up feelings for his mother and identifies with his father, and begins to
behave like him and adopts a masculine gender role.
Gender development in girls:
A girl is unconsciously attracted to her father and is resentful of her mother. She is worried that her
mother will find out about these feeling's, however she believes she has already been castrated, so
she does not feel as much fear. She feels conflict between her love for her father and losing her
mother's love- this is the Electra complex. In order to resolve this, she gives up the feelings she has
for her father and identifies with her mother.
Aim: To investigate Little Hans phobia.
Method: At age four Hans developed a phobia from horses-that they might bite him or fall down. He
was particularly afraid of large white horses with black around their mouth. Freud analysed this.
Results: Hans was experiencing the Oedipus complex. He displaced his fear of his father onto
horses- dark around the mouth, his father's dark beard, being bitten- being castrated, horses falling
down- his father dying.
Conclusion: This supports Freud's idea about Oedipus complex.
Gender development in a lone parent household
According to Freud, if a child is raised in a lone parent household, they will have a poor gender
identity- this is because the child does not experience and resolve the Oedipus/Electra complex.
Evaluation of the psychodynamic theory
It is difficult to test- it is based on unconscious thoughts and feelings. Although there has been a rise
in lone parent households, there has not been a rise in homosexuality. The little Hans case study was
only carried out on one child, the findings cannot be generalised.
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Social learning theory of gender development
Modelling- a role model provides an example for the child
Imitation- copying the behaviour of a model
Vicarious reinforcement- learning from the model being rewarded or punished
Children watch behaviour being modelled by a role model such as a parent or an older sibling. Then
depending on whether that behaviour is punished or rewarded (vicariously reinforced), they will
imitate it, therefore gradually building up a gender.…read more
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Gender scheme theory of gender development
Gender scheme- a mental building block of knowledge that contains information about
A schema is a building block of knowledge. It is strengthened or changed as we learn more
information about the world around us. It is thought that gender schemes develop with age- from the
age of two; children know whether they are a boy or girl.
Once children are aware of the two different sexes, they learn about gender from what they see
and experience.…read more