Biological Influences on Gender


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  • Created by: Jamie
  • Created on: 07-01-12 00:19

Biological Influences on Gender Brain Sex Theory

  • Theory argues that there is a part of the hypothalumus which is responsible for sexual behaviour called the BTSc and it is fully developed by age five. States the reason for gender dysphoria may be that males have a female type BTSc.
  • Zhou et al found that transgender women had BTSc that was the same size as that of a heterosexual cis female. They also had a similar number of neurons. Also founf that untreated transwomen had simliar patterns to the hetero women, so it could be argued that it's not hormones that caused the changes, but they were present from birth.

Evidence against

  • Chung et al found that the BTSc developed in adulthood, they argued that hormone levels which are present at birth remain dormant until adulthood when they become active, this causes the want to change sex.
  • Hulshoff and Poll et al argue that HRT taken by transsexuals is the casue of the change in the VTSc and that it can change in adulthood.
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Biological Influences on Gender Genes and Hormones

  • Young Et al - Studied monkeys given testosterone whilst pregant and found that they gave birthto female young who took part in more rough and tumble play. Study was unethical becasue primates are clever and it was tampering with their natural behaviour. There are alternative ways that don't involve animal testing. Could also affect the way they acted with their own young.
  • Yalom et al - Mothers injected with female hormones gave birth to less athletic boys. Who took part in less rough and tumble play. Although rough and tumble play is measurable it is stereotypical to say the boys were less athletic. Bad way of operationalising the dependent variable.
  • Gerschwind and Galaburda - Explains that females may be better at verbal tasks because in males the development of the left side of the brain is slowed. Stereotypical and reductionist that this would make females better at verbal tasks, could be down to social factors.
  • Driesen and Raz - Corpus Collosum is bigger in females. This would suggest that females would be faster at processing verbal information. It is speculation that size makes any difference. No proof that it does. cases where CC is severed does not seem to affect verbal skills.
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Biological Influences of Gender Evolutionary Theor

  • Predictions - Men will be more promiscuous in order to spread their genes. We choose a mate depending on the basis of prodiucing healty offspring. Women wil choose a male depending on their ability to protect/prvide for them. Men will choose a female based on fertility.
  • Parental investment theory - All living things aim to spread their genes, females know for certain that a child is theirs but males don't. Which means it seems logical that they will try and spread their seed as much as they can. The have low paternal certainty.
  • Buss et al - Conducted a study to find out which form of infidelity would be more distressing for men and women. It involved asking them questions about two different sceenarios. The results showed that women were more distressed by emotional infidelity and men sexuals. This supports evolutionary theory.
  • Dunn and Searle - Shiny Car Study - Found that women will find a man more atrtactive when he is in an expensive car compared to a normal car. This supports evolutionary theory that women will choose a mate based on their ability to care for offspring, money = resourses.
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Evolutionary theory Evaluation and debate

  • Reductionist, it ignores social and cultural influences.
  • Does not explain why homosexuality is common in our society. Doesn't make evolutionary sense to be gay if our goal is to reproduce.
  • Evidence to support the selfish gene theory e.g it's more likely for a step parent to kill a child than a biological parent.
  • Experimental evidence that shows men and women have different attitudes to fidelity. Men are more likely to experience sexual jealousy.


  • Socially sensitive research - A lot of this research is socially sensitive, it could possibly lead to forced abortin, discrimination and forced sterilisation etc, if a specifice gene is ever identified. But children may be able to recieve help and support from an earlier age.
  • Reductionist - Ignores the importance of our social and cultural influences and relies on biological influences which cannot account for all explanations of gendered behaviour.
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