Cultural influences on gender roles

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  • Created by: Iqra97
  • Created on: 29-03-16 11:25

Cultural similarities

Cross-cultural studies show that every socit has some dividsion of labour and behaviour by gender. For example, food preperation and child care is predominantly carried out by females in all socities, sometimes shared but in no society is it the major responsibility of males. Girls are socialised more towards compliance - nurturance, responsibility and obedience, whereas boys are raised more for assertiveness - independence, self resillience and achievement. 

John Williams and Deborah Best, produced evidence of cultural similarities in gender stereotypes. They tested 2,800 students in 30 different countries using a 300 item adjective checklist. PPts were asked to decide for each adjective whether it was more frequently associated with men or women. Men were seen as more dominant, aggressive, and autonomous, whereas women were more nurturant, deferent and interested in affiliation. This suggests there are universal gender stereotypes about male-femals characteristics. Criticism of study - however, the task was a forced choice due to it being a closed questionnair. There was not equal category therefore, divisions may be exaggerated. It also lacks internal validity because it did not measure gender behaviours but stereotypes. Lastly, the PPts were uni students who share common attributes, are all well educated, and may be exposed to similar global influences such as books, films etc. This might explain the high level of consensus. Thus also lacks population validty as it only looked at uni student, so we cannot apply to the whole population. 

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AO2 of cultural similarities

The fact that cultural similarities are the same in most cultures suggests that biology rather than culture explains the development of gender roles. However, what we dont know is whether this division is the direct outcome of biological difference as proposed by the evolutionary approach or whether it is a more indirect outcome of biological differences as proposed by Eagly and Wood who argued that all cultures shape their socialisation processes along the lines of inborn biological tendencies. 

It is more complicated than the thoery proposes. labour diviison are the in most cultures but not all cultures. For example, Sugihara and Katsurada found that japanese men do not seek to be 'macho' like Americans but instead value being well-rounded in the arts, a trait normally regarded as feminine. 

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Cultural variation: Magnitude of sex differences

There are also osme significant variations which Mead describes as cultural relativism. Berry et al (2002) looked at male superiority on spatial perceptual tasks in 17 societies. They found that this superiority is only found in relatively tight knit, sedentary societies, but absent or even reversed in 'looser' nomadic societies. This shows that sex differences on spatial perceptual tasks interact with ecological and cultural factors. 

The same patern emerges with conformity. Across cultures there is a general consensus that women are more conformist than men. However, this difference varies considerably with culture. Berry et al. reported that conformity is highest in tight sedentary societies with a correlation between this sex difference and an ecocultural index of +78.

We can also conclude that historal changes when considering the magnitude of sex differences. In the UK, women continue to perform more domestic duties than men and to occupy less powerful positions. However, this gender gap has been decreasing which supports the role of chaning social influences.

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AO2 cultural differences

Spatial perception - Whilst one explanation for differences between cultures in spatial perception is due to the differences in division of labour in sedentary compared to nomadic societies, kimura offers an alternative biological interpretation suggesting in hunting societies those with poor spatial perception are likely to die eliminating such genes. This explains why in societies where both men and women hunt there would be less gender differences in spatial abilities. 

Historical changes 

S - Time and culture has influenced division of labour on gender roles particularly in western cultures 

E - Eagly and Woods analysis of cross cultural data suggests in more modernised societies where physical strength is less neccessary for providing for a family and there are alternative childcare, social roles will be more similar between mena dn women, and psychological differences will be reduced. 

E - This supports cultural influences on gender roles as it implies that culture is an influential factor because it is not just based on biological factors..

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IDA - nature vs nurture

S - Cultural influences on gender roles brings about the nature vs nurture debate

E - This is because if there are cultural similarities in gender roles then biological factors may be the cause of this, suggesting that nature plays a part in gender development. 

E - This has been explained by the evolutionary theory - men and women inherit physical traits, making men stronger and more aggressive and so more likely to be the hunters, whereas women have the ability to become child bearers and so are more emphsising. 

K - Biological factors may predispose individuals to certain traits and so there may be similarities across cultures as a result, and so our nature must be considered in gender development. However, our society and upbringing, nurture may differ between cultures and so cause cultural differences in gender role development.

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IDA - Cultural bias

S - The research on cultural influences on gender role is culturally biased.

E - Berry et al. believed that most cross-cultural studies are driven by the interests of western psychlogists, using concepts rooted in western thinking about human behaviour. 

E - This demonstrates the idea of cultural bias, because most studies, including the study of Berry carried out by Western psychologists, which use western thinking about human behaviours and then to use western methods such as the adjective checklist used by Williams and Best. This creates imposed etics because it can't be applied to collectivist cultures, making cultural influences on gender role culturally biased. 

K - Therefore, it has low population validity and it cannot be generalised to other cultures. 

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