Kohlberg's theory of gender development

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  • Created by: KCharlish
  • Created on: 08-04-16 17:37

AO1 1 Outline

Concept of gender constancy comes from Piaget's ideas about cognitive development, for example maturation and lack of internal logic when young.

Young children don't think logically e.g. swayed by what things look like

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AO1 2 Stage 1 Labelling

  • occurs between age of 2 and 3
  • children select a person's gender label based on appearence.
  • But this gender label can change
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AO1 3 Stability

  • Age 4
  • Gender is consistent overtime e.g. boys grow into men
  • lack awareness that this is consistent over situations

McConaghy - children shown drawing of a doll with a dress but visible male genitals. Children under the age of 5 judge the doll to be female, despite contrary evidence it was a boy.

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AO1 4 Consistency

  • Age 6
  • realise gender is consistent across situations as well as time.
  • they have developed now full gender constancy
  • will start to learn about gender appropriate behaviour
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AO2 1 Labelling support


  • 2 year olds were 76% correct in identifying their sex
  • whereas 3 year olds were 90% correct
    • shows an increasing ability to label themselves
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AO2 2 Stablility support

Slaby and Frey;

  • asked a set of questions
    • 'were you a little boy or girl when you were a baby'
    • 'when you grow up will you be a mummy or daddy
  • answers showed they did not recognise these traits were stable overtime until they were 3 - 4 years old. 
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AO2 3 Consistency support

Slaby and Frey;

  • asked a different set of questions
    • 'if you played football would you be a boy or girl'
    • 'could you be a boy or girl if you wanted to be'
  • children who scored high on both stability and consistency showed greatest interst in same sex models 
  • - increasing sense of constancy leads children to pay more attention to gender appropriate models
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AO2 4 Validity

  • May not be testing what they intended to test
  • Bem - all that is being assessed is a child's understanding of our social cues for indicating gender i.e. what you are wearing
    • Gave children aged 3-5 a gender conservation task
    • shown photos of a nude child and the same child dressed gender innappropriately.
    • those who assigned gender on a basis of clothing also tended to fail a genital knowledge test.
    • - suggests they were not failing to conserve gender because they lacked an understanding of consistency but they failed because there was nothing to conserve.
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IDA Approaches

  • CD approach makes no mention of the influence of hormones and genes - biological approach
  • Gender roles may be learnt through reinforcement, behaviour learnt through direct and indirect reinforcement and punishment - social approach e.g. boys teased for wearing girls clothes
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AO2 5 - Age underestimated

  • Slaby and Frey - did find that gender consistency appeared at a younger age than siggested, as young as 5.
  • Not a direct challenge to the theory but suggests that adjustments are necessary to the ages.
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