Cultural influence on Gender

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  • Created by: ava.scott
  • Created on: 01-06-15 22:47


There is debate in whetehr gender is universal or culturally relative.

If it is the latter, people aquire information and follow gender roles through observation and imitation.

Various differences have been demonstrated through cross-cultural research, and so suggesting that sultire does influnce gender.

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Used an ethnographic approach to observe and reserach three tribes in Paupa New guinea.


Mild mannered and all very nurturing. They looked after children equally and hunted for food equally.


More competive and aggressive. The chidlren are left to fend for themselves, creating a fiercely independent society.


Women are main providers and more detached; men are more emotional and take a larger child minding role.

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Observed the tchambli tribe later.

Found that the men were more aggressive than the women, and the difference was less pronounce.

Highlights lack of reliability in the ethnographic approach

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Wood and Eagly

  • Looked at thousands of observations of various cultures around the world.
  • Content analysis to identify the roles played by men and women

In pre-industrialised societies, men consistently contibuted more to food provision, and owmne more to child minding and care.

This suggests that there is a consistency across all cultures that makes women tend towards midjing. This means that gender is initially biologicla, and evolved.

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Williams and Best

2800 university students across 30 different nations.

high universal agreement on what feminine and masculine characteristics were.

  • Men are innately dominant.
  • Women are innately caring.

Also suggests a more cocnsitent gender developemnt across cultures, and less influence from social factors.

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Research evaluation

Cross cultural reasearch is very sensitive to:

RESEARCHER BIAS and imposed etic

Mead has been highly cristicsed of this; she may have chosen to report on behaviours that suite dher theory. She is also a very subjective measurment, and this means the reserach has very low repeatability and reliability, as displayed by Cooks alternative findings.

Wood and Eagly may have also subconciously developed actergories that coincided with western ideas, making different cultures appear more similar.

Williams and Best uses a very specific group of people- university students. These people may be more subject to the same cultural influnces, due to to increased intenational media in youth culture. This would make cultures appear more similar.

REDUCES generalisability of the theory and research, and so makes it less compelling and useful

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Nature v nurture

  • ignore biological factors deoites stronge vidneces
  • weaker evidence for gender relative theory
  • limited explanation
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