Key Terms

  • Sex: Based on physiology, a biological term, male/female, genetics are fixed
  • Gender: Phychological, masculine/feminine, not fixed behaviour
  • Androgyny: Exhibit both masculine and feminine behaviour.  E.g. Soldier who cares for his daughter


  • Flexible gender role
  • Individual displays similar levels of masculine and feminine behaviour
  • Not associated with a particular sex (male or females)

Study: Bem's sex role innentory (BSRI)

  • Over 1,000 students tested the BSRI
    • Showed it to be valid when checked against the participants' own description of their gender identity
  • Smaller sample of students again a month later and recieved similar scores.
    • Evidence that the BSRI is reliable.
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  • Uses sex-role stereotypes of what charateristics are masculine and feminine
  • Cannot be generalised.  All participants were from the same school
  • Social desirability bias~ scores may be exaggerated

Study: Imperato- McGinley~ Changing gender development

  • 18 males in same extended family with a hormone deficiency where at birth their genitals appeared to be female and so they were raised as girls
  • Raised as female until puberty where an increase of male hormones where their genitials grew into penises
  • Nearly all boys easily adapted to their true sex
  • Shows sex and gender are distinct concepts
  • Shows gender is flexible
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Androgyny Continued...


  • Samples are small~ one small community and the same extended family
  • Unable to generalise (how would other cultures respond?)
  • Dominican Republic is a very patriarchal society and so it would benefit the participants to adapt to a masculine role
  • Researchers had to rely on retrospective accounts of their childhood
    • Cannot reliabily say boys fully adopted the feminine gender roles before puberty

Nature- Nurture debate in gender development


  • The two main arguements are that either gender is innate or it has been learnt. 
  • These two different perspectives represent a famous debate that occurs throughout psychology: the nature-nurture debate
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Nature- Nurture debate in gender development


There is evidence to support both the role of nature and nurture in gender development.  Many psychologists nowadays adopt an interactionist approach to explain gender, and recognise that gender is a product of both biology and environmental experiences

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Nature Arguement

  • No difference between sex and gender
  • Behaviour is determined by sex due to genes, physiology, hormones etc.



  • Aggression (Males biologically the sex to protect and provide for partners and children)
  • Caring (females biologically the sex to nurture)

Study: Buss~ Mate preferences

  • Survey in 37 Countries across all continents.  Respondents were asked to rate the importance of wide range of traits in a potential mate
  • Men: Good looks, youth and chastity
  • Women: Good financial prospects, industriousness and dependability
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Nature Arguement Cotinued...

  • Supported evolutionary theory~ women and men instinctively seek out different traits in potential mates
  • Youth and good looks is an indicator of health and fertility.  Chasity because an unfaithful mate may carry someone else's baby
  • Finance and industriousness is to ensure that their mate can provide for them and a baby


  • Questionnaire means that the questions/traits were pre-set
    • Respondents unable to offer any other important traits
  • The set questions/suggestions may be Westernised
    • not identified traits other cultures seek in a mate making findings unreliable
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Cross-cultural Research

  • Research carried out across several societies
  • Useful in nature-nurture debate (e.g. Buss)
  • If behaviour is human nature it should be universal (occur across the world) regardless of experience and upbringing

Problems of Nature Arguement

  • How can nature explain cases where a person doesn't adopt gender roles even when there are no genetic abnormalities?
  • If males and females are naturally different, how can nature explain how both sexes are becoming more similar as gender roles become more androgynous?
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Cultural Variations in gender-related behaviour

Study: Mead and Cultural differences in gender

  • Detailed enthographic study by living with various tribes in New Guinea for 6 months;
    • 1 Tribe- both sexes feminine
    • 2 Tribe- both sexes masculine
    • 3 Tribe- gender roles reversed to Western Society
  • Shows gender roles depend on Culture
  • Gender- related behaviours not universal suggesting they are not determined by nature


  • Became too involved as Mead leved with the Tribes
  • Findings criticised for being too subjective
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Nurture Argument

  • Gender is essentially a product of socialisation and is dependent on environmental experiences and so family upbringing and society's expectations play a key role in gender development
  • Also explains why an individual's gender may change over time
  • Gender is a behaviour and so it is open to influence.

Sex-role Stereotyping

Study: Furnham & Farragher- Media

  • Over 200 adverts were analysed acording to the sex of the central figure
  • Men most likely to be presented in autonomous roles whereas women were most likely to be presented in familial roles
  • Findings represented many stereotypes that society has about males and females
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Sex-role Stereotyping


  • Findings from content Nlyses are open to interpretation
  • Cannot assume people are influenced by stereotypes in the media
  • Large evidence that shows people do identify with and imitate what they see in the media

Study: Fagot~ Parental influence

  • Observed 24 different families in their homes with 5 seperate one hour periods each
  • 12 famiilies had a young son and 12 families had young daughters
  • Parents reacted more favourably when their child engaged in gender-appropriate behaviour
  • Therefore parents reinforce certain behaviour through socialisation by sex-role stereotyping their daughters and sons.
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Sex-role Stereotyping Continued


  • Parents may have behaved differently as they were aware of being observed
    • Findings may not be a valid reflection of normal beahviour in the homes (parents may stereotype more or less in reality).
  • Findings may be out of date as gender behaviour is now more equal

Gender: Nature or Nurture?

  • Basic assumption of nurture arguement is babies are born without gender identity
  • In theory a baby boy could be raised as a 'girl' and vice versa
  • Real-life cases where children have been raised as the 'opposite sex'
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Gender: Nature or nurture

Study: Diamond and Sigmundon~ biology in gender development

  • 8 month baby lost penis during circumcision
  • Parents decided to reassign hiis gender (operation to construct a vagina and renamed as Brenda)
  • Initially, Brenda adapted well to female role behaving in a feminine way
  • At puberty Brenda felt that she had a masculine gender identity
  • Began to live as a man; David and had a penis reconstruction
  • Effects of nature outweighted attempts to nurture male into the feminine gender role


  • Supports nature in gender development
  • Based on 1 case study and so cannot be generaised
  • Brenda/David had a monozygotic twin brother
    • Obvious male role model in close proximity a lot of the time may be the reason why the gender re-assignment failed
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Nature or nurture

AO2 Continued...

  • Gender re-assigned at 2 years of age so masculine gender identity may be a result of not being raised as a girl from birth
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Explaining gender development


Emphasise on the role of Chromosomes and hormones in gender development.     Strongly supports nature arguement

SLT (Behaviourist):

Gender roles are learnt from others. Strongly supports the nurture argument


Focuses more on the mind and how individuals think about their gender.  Gender develops as part of an innate process (nature) but concepts of gender depend on familial and cultural experiences (nurture)


Focuses more on unconscious elements.  Maintains gender develops instinctively (nature) but childhood experiences moderate this (nurture)

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Biological and Gender


Male and Female

  • XY- Male        **-Female
  • Hormonal and Physiological Difference results in Behaviour Difference

Turner's Syndrome

  • XO
  • Shows that feminine gender identity can develop in absebce of ovaries & oestrogens

Klienfelter's Syndrome

  • **Y
  • **-Female.
  • However anatomatically male~ shows importance of Y

Male hormone = androgens                                                           Female hormone = oestrogens  

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Differences in brain structure

  • Sex differences are found in the structure of cerebral hemisphere.  This may explain
    • Females- superior language, emotional and fine motor skills
    • Males- superior visual-spatial and mathematical skills
  • Sex differences in the brain involve the hypothalamus
    • 2 specificregions (BST & SDN-POA) which are larger in adult heterosexual males than heterosexual females.
  • Differences in brain structure may relate to differences in female and male sexual behaviour
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Hormones and Gender

Adrenogenital Syndrome- Females

  • Normal ** Chromosomes but exposed to excessive androgens in the womb from a malfunctioning of adrenal glands
  • Male-like genitals~ identify as females at birth and raised as such
  • Large number later identify as 'tomboys'
  • Suggests hormones have a pre-natal effect on the brain that later effects gender behaviour

Study: Van Goozen~ Sexhormones and adult behaviour

  • Transexuals of both sexes undergoing hormone treatment, were given a range of tests to complete before treatment and 3 months after
  • male to female: decrease in aggression and visual-spatial skills and increase in verbal fluency (opposite for female to male)
  • Suggests sex hormones do affect gender-related behaviours
  • AO2: Not a controlled experiment so changes may be due to other uncontrolled variables.  (E.g. transsexuals' own experiments)
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Atypical Chromosome Patterns

Turner's Syndrome- XO

  • Identify as female and have similar interests and behaviours to biologically normal females
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • No ovaries, don't mensturate at puberty and are sterile.
    • Don't develop breasts, usually short stature, short webbed neck and low set ears
  • Psychological characteristics:
    • Higher than average language ability
    • Lower spatial ability, visual memory and mathematic skills
    • Difficulties relating to peers

Klinefelter's Syndrome- XXY

  • Anatomically male
  • Physical Characteristics: undescened testes and undersized penises, some breast development and rounding of body contours
  • Psychological Characteristics: Tend to be passive, shy and lacking in ambition
  • Poor judgement and handle stress badly
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  • Ignores evidence
  • Reductionist and deterministic- no free will
  • Laboratory experiments- low ecological validity
  • Atypical gender behaviour is not always accompanied by chromosome/hormonal differences


Cognitive- biological ignores cognitions (thoughts)

SLT- Biological States no free will.  SLT says there is a choice in who you identify with

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Social Learning Theory (SLT)

  • Gender is learnt by observing others.  There are no (innate) biological differences at birth
  • Gender differences are a product of socialisation
  • Argument that individuals learn about gender-appropriate behaviour throughout their lifetime and from a variety of sources

Study: Smith& Lloyd- Behaviour towards gender

  • 32 mothers played with 2 male and 2 female babies who were presented equally as their own sex and as the opposite sex using stereotyped clothes and names
  • Babies percieved to be boys received more encouragement to play actively
  • Babies percieved to be girls were offered dolls and babies percieved to be boys were offered hammers.

Behaviour learnt processes

  • acquisition of a behaviour
  • performing that behaviour
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Acquisition of gender roles: modelling & identific

Conditions to acquiring behaviour: attention and retention


  • demonstrating or displaying a beaviour
  • Role Model: individual that another associates with and wants to be like


  • Process whereby an individual associates with the qualities, characteristics and views of another
  • Identify more with same-sex models
  • level of identification depends on factors e.g. popularity and attractiveness
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Performance of gender roles: imitation and reinfor

Conditions to performing behaviour: reproduction and motivation


  • individual consciously copies or reproduces an actionn or behaviour
  • Need self-efficacy: belief that they have the capacity to imitate a behaviour they have observed
  • Motivated by reinforcement


  • Positive consequences which strengthen a behaviour; making a behaviour more likely to happen again.
  • Direct reinforcement: Individual recieves personal reward for imitating learned behaviour
  • Vicarious reinforcement: individual imitates a behaviour because they have seen it being rewarded elsewhere.
  • Punishment: a behaviour being followed with negative consequences (reducing the likelihood of that behaviour ocuuring again).  Reverse of reinforcement.
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  • Interalisation: behaviours become an integrated part of an individual's identity
  • Gender is a social construct- an abstract concept created by society so can change over time as society changes, and it can vary between societies


  • Identification relates to attention and retention whereas Reproduction related to imitation
  • Ignores biology: How do individuals with Klinefelter's Syndrome have noticable different behaviour to other Males?
    • How come gender seems to be universal?
  • Laboratory experiments- low ecological validity
  • If society/parents/peers reinforce gender appropriate behaviour, how does SLT explain gender inappropriate behaviour?


  • Cognitive- SLT states imitation creates gender whereas Cognitive states gender identity comes before
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SLT Comparisons



  • SLT: imitation creates gender identity
  • Cognitive: gender identity comes before imitation


  • SLT can explain Cultural and historical change in gender identities
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  • Focuses on thinking (mental processes) behind gender development

Kohlberg's Cognitive Develop Theory

  • Children's mind develop in gender identity in stages related to maturation (age).
  • Gender understanding becomes more sophisticated with age

1) Gender Identity (2-3 Years)

  • Can identify their own & others' sex
  • Fooled by outward appearnces, sex can change
  • Not unusual to think tehy can grow up to be the opposite sex (boys grow up to be mums)

2) Gender Stability (3-4)

  • Understand their own sex will not change over time (stable)
  • Egocentric; others' sex can still change over time
  • Still fooled by outward appearances
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Kohlberg's Cognitive developmental theory

3) Gender Constancy (4-7 years)

  • Adult understanding of gender
  • Begin to de-centre and understand that everyone's sex is constant and not just their own
  • Demonstrate the cognitive ability to conserve; understand sex of an individual  are conserved (stay the same) even if appearance changes
    • Have some idea of their own gender being constant

Study: Slabey & Frey- Gender Constancy

  • Male and female models shown on a split screen
  • Young children looked at both models but older children (with high levels of Gender Constancy) focused on their same-sex model

Study: Marcus & Overton- Gender Constancy with age

  • 3 year groups: 5-6; 6-7 & 7-8 shown a puzzel where possible to change hairstyle and clothes of make and female characters to look like opposite sex. 
  • Younger children said that the sex of the character changed but own was fixed (boy given girl's hair
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Gender Constancy

Study: Marcus & Overton- Gender Constancy with age

  • 3 year groups: 5-6; 6-7 & 7-8 shown a puzzel where possible to change hairstyle and clothes of make and female characters to look like opposite sex. 
  • Different combinations of teh puzzel and each time the children were asked what sex they thought the character was
  • Younger children said that the sex of the character changed but own was fixed (boy given girl's hairsyle
  • Older Children said that character's and their own sex was fixed
  • However, artificial task- may have little bearing on real life

Gender Schemas

  • Emphasises importance of children actively-seeking gender-related information.
  • Disagrees with Kohlberg as it believes that children seek out this information long before they reach gender constancy.
  • First gender schema is activities related with each sex, essentially form sex-role stereotypes and go on to form gender scripts e.g. females make dinner and males do DIY
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Gender Schemas

  • Often based on apperance and play beahviour and stereotyped
  • Gender appropriate behaviour becomes part of children's thinking
  • Only pay attention to behaviour that is cosistent with their own sex (fail to encode other behaviour)

Study: Martin & Halverson- Information against Gender Schemas

  • 5 and 6 year old children pictures of people carrying out activities.  Sometimes the activities were schema-consistent and sometimes they were schema-inconsistent
  • Children's recall of pictures was tested a week later.
    • Recall of schema-consistent pictures was generally good
    • Recall of schema-inconsistent pictures were distorted so the expected sex were carrying out the activities (recalled a boy playing with a gun and not a girl)
  • Shows that children use schemas to help ake sense of their world and sometimes use them to reorganise information if its not accurate to their schema.
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Cognitive AO2

  • Suggests gender develops in age-realted stages which implies that it is related to biological mmaturation
  • Describes gender but doesn't actuallyy explain. For example no understanding of why gender begins at the age of two and how schemas actually form



  • Both agree gender is related to biological maturation
  • Biological explains gender is detrmined by factors outside child's control (hormones) and are not so active in developing their gender


  • doesn't focus so much on conscious elemts of gender development
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  • Establishing gender identity is part of teh healthy psychological development and should occur around the age of five.

1-3 years- Oral and Anal Stages

  • gender identity is flexible, no clear differences between sexes as both focus on seeking pleasure through the mouth and then the anus.
  • Up to the age of 3 children have no real sense of being masculine or feminine

3-5/6 Years- Phallic Stage

  • Seeks pleasure from playing with their own genitals and at the same time pay attention to others' and therefore become aware of the physical differences between males and females. 
  • Start of developing gender identity
  • Main force behind child's gender development is their relationship with their parents.  Mother is first love for both sexes however for 3 year old boys this love turns to lust
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Phallic Stage

Oedipus Complex

  • Unconscious conflict that occurs in boys when they desire their mother yet fear their father due to castration anxiety

Electra Complex

  • Unconscious conflict that occurs in girls when they desire their father to give them a baby yet worry about losing their mother's love.


  • Children of both sexes resolve conflicts with their respective parents is to identify with their same sex parent to develop a superego and adopt their same sex parent's identity and role.
    • May explain why 5 and 6 year olds, (end of phallic stage) appear to behave in similar ways to their parents.
  • Children in one parent families would be unable to experience the Oedipus/Electra complex and so wouldn't resolve the conflict to develop a healthy gender identity
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Oedipus Complex

Study: Freud- existence of Oedipus Complex

  • Hans developed a phobia of horses
  • Hans' father asked to write to Freud and tell him about his development
  • Hans had repressed his fear of his father due to the Oedipus Complex and displaced it onto another object: horses
  • His fear was particularly strong as Hans' mothe rwas pregnant making him very jealous


  • difficult to generalise- one study of one boy
  • Study was used to support a pre-determined theory- evidence may be forced to fit
  • Unreliable- Freud never met Hans himself
  • Hans witnessing a horse and cart accident was not taken into account which may give a better explanation for Hans' phobia
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Psychodynamic AO2

Unscientific and the unconscious cannot be tested

  • Not just parents influence gender as boys disciplined by uncles still develop normally
  • Children have gender identity before five
  • Strict fathers do not have more masculine sons or have a closer relatiionship which identification would suggest
  • Infantile Sexuality- many would object this idea



  • Both agree that 'anatomy is destiny' and gender development is driven by nature
  • Biological disagree that family experiences do not aid in gender identity


  • Agree parents are influential in gender develoment
  • SLT disagree a same-sex parent is needed or that gender develops in a result of maturation
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