Sex and Gender

Sex: what you biologically are due to your chromosomes, hormones and genitalia

Gender: what you psychologically perecive yourself to be

Sex Role stereotypes: refers to the behaviours we expect of each gender, as what is acceptable and usual behaviour for males and females, obtained from exposure to parents attitude and direct tuition

Androgyny: a flexible gender role where someone displays both masculine and feminine traits. Bem argues that it is more healthy to avoid fixed sex role stereotypes allowing freedom to perform both masculine and feminine behaviours

Bem's Sex Role Inventory: measures how people identify themselves psychologically. 100 American uundergeraduates were asking for masculine and feminine traits and then the participants rate themselves to identify their gender. If their masculine and feminine scores are the same they are androgynous. It is usual for boys to inhibit their feminine side and girls to inhibit their masculine side

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Evaluations of Bem Sex Role Inventory

Bem found high test retest reliablity showing that the results of the measure are reliable

Being androgynous ensures people can handle situations in flexible ways and are not surpressing themselves

Most of the items on Bem's scale were more socially desirable therefore self esteem could explain a high score rather than androgny. This means the results can be questioned for validity

Hoffman and Borders found that when asked to rate the items on masculinity and feminity in 2001, only the words masculine and feminine were defined as their type. This means that 20 years after its 1980s introduction, the measure lacks temporal validity

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Kohlberg's Theory of Gender Development

Based on thoughts of Piaget. States that as we develop, our brains grow, developing the ability to learn greater and more complex ideas. This means our development is staged and age related. As children mature, so does their cognitive ability, and this is known as maturation. All children are egocentric until ages 6-7, and think everyone sees the world as they do. 

Stage 1) Gender Labelling: between the ages of 2-3. Children begin to label themselves as a boy or girl but it is based on outward superficial appearance. This means that they do not understand that gender is fixed and will become confused by a change in appearance normally associated with the opposite gender. 

Stage 2) Gender Stability: at age 4. See gender as fixed for themselves but their ability to conserve gender is still affected by external influences in others. Thye are able to see that a boy grows into a man, but if a boy puts a dress on, they cannot see him as anything but a girl.

Stage 3) Gender Constancy: at aged 6. Sees gender as constant in all situations. They understand gender stereotypes and gender appropraite behaviour, meaning they begin the process of socialisation where they observe same sex models and imitate their bheaviour. They are no longer egocentric and see that the world looks different to different people. 

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Kohlberg's Theory of Gender Development

There is research to support the stages of development from Slaby and Frey. They  found that when assessing children for gender stability and constancy, children younger than 3 or 4 were not aware that their own gender was consistent and fixed, this lacking gender stability. It was clear that those who scored high in gender constancy questions (if you played football would you be a girl or boy?), had a greater interest in sex role stereotypes and models. This research agrees with Kohlbergs theory to demonstrate the different stages. 

The idea considers both nature and nurture as it suggests it is our nature and brain structure that influences the speed of the process, but development is continued by the nurture and stereotypes inenvironment. 

There is a refuting theory from Bem who says that it is down to the childs knowledge of their genitalia that affects their understanding of gender. In her research she found that 77% of children were not able to correctly identify the correct genitals for the correct sex, and all of them failed to conserve gender when the clothing was moved from appropriate to inappropriate

There is also a cultural bias present because different cultures have different stereotypes and expected behaviours. The theory is of western making and therefore it is difficult to differetiate and apply the theory to other cultures

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Psychodynamic theory

Devised by Freud, who introduced 5 stages of development. One of these was the phallic stage between ages 3-5. Before this stage, the child is bisexual, with no knowledge of masclinity or femininity. The child must fix the complex in this stage in order to develop a gender identity. The process includes identification (where the characteristics of a same sex parents are acknowledged as appropriate), internalisation (where the characterisitcs are intergrained into their personality), and repression (thoughts are moved into the unconcious mind)

Oedipus complex is the boys conflict to overcome:

1) boys desire their mother,2) They begin to see their father as a rival and therefore wish to see him drop down dead 3)  boy begins to identify with the father to resolve conflict and he incorporates his fathers actions into his personality, to internalise the male gender role. 

Electra complex is the girls conflict:

1) girls resent their mother as they were born without a penis, believing she has been castrated. 2) the girl suffers with penis envy but substitute this desire for a penis with a desire for a baby. They become attracted to their father as the person to give them the baby. 3) the girl fears her mother finding out and withdrawing love and therefore represses these feelings, instead identifying with the mother to internalise the female gender role. 

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Evaluation of psychodynamic theory

There is research to support from Freuds case study on Little Hans. He found that the boys phobia of biting horses was caused by castration anxiety, and the images of dead horses was an inconscious desire to see the father drop dead. This was therefore evidence of the oedipus complex. However, because this is a case study, we cannot generalise the theory to the general population, and it also lacks temporal validity because views of gender are very different today, and lacks inter rater reliabilty as only Freud tested the idea. 

There is research to refute the idea that growing up without a father causes problems with gender identity. Green found that out of 37 children who had grown up with same sex or transgender parents, only 1 had a non typical gender identity

The idea is also very androcentric as the femal gender development is based on the desire to be like a male e.g. penis envy. This reflects the attitude at the time and questions the validity of the theory. This can be extended by the theory by Karen Horney that men experience womb envy as it is more useful than a penis. 

There is opposing theory from Kohlberg who says that gender develops over three stages, in contrast to Freud with a singular stage development

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