Psychology Gender Studies

Studies and general overview of what psycholgist believe determines gender. Higlighted items need to be explained or expanded to gain extra marks. Highlighted terms can get you the AO1 marks on the exam but AO2 needs to be added.

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  • Created by: amair
  • Created on: 31-12-12 16:37


Kohlberg (1966)

Kohlberg believed that gender devolpment is determined by a childs thinking. Children have the cognitive ability to understand that gender is fixed at 7 years old. Kohlberg believes at this age that children have aquired self socialisation through the devolpment of gender schemas and gender roles.

Stage 1 (2-3 Years)

Basic gender identity is realised by the child. The child understands the difference between boy and girl but believes that gender can change.

Stage 2 (3-5 Years)

Gender stability occurs. This is when a boy becomes man and a girl becomes a woman but still believe gender can change through gender inconsisties.

Stage 3 (5-7 Years)

Gender constancy occurs where the child believes gender is fixed.

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Supporting Evidence

Munroe et al (1984)

Found that the gender identity devolpment stage that Kohlberg had suggested occured in six different cultures. (USA, Kenya, Nepal, Belize and Samoa) therefore it can be argued that the three stages are universal. Therefore Kohlbergs theory had strong culture validity.

Slaby and Frey (1975)

55 children aged 2-5 divided into group of high gender constancy and low constancy. They watched a film where male and female adults carried out activities. They found those in the high gender constancy paid more attention to the same sex model. Therefore it supports the cause that imitation is key to gender devolpment which Kohlberg suggests.

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Gender Schema Theory

Gender Schema Theory (Martin and Halverson 1987)

  • Gender Schemas are organised sets of beliefs that stored in memory which contain information about gender.
  • Gender schema theory suggest that gender is learned through observations and interaction with others.
  • After 2 years, when basic gender identity is formed, after that they form schemas through interactions with the in group gender identity and avoid out group gender schemas.
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Supporting Evidence

Fagot (1985)

She found through observation that female teachers reinforced feminine behaviour but onky the girks responded to the reinforcement suggesting that we learn gender through in group gender interactions.

Hill and Flom (2006)

Found that two year old children looked significantly longer at gender incosistent activities because this was a novel situation and the situation didnt match gender stereotypes.

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Biological Influences Into Gender

Ridley (2003)

  • Biological sex is dertemined by a single gene on the y chromosome called the SRY
  • When present and functioning normally it will result in a male if not it will result in a female.
  • SRY gene switches on the SOX9 gene which masculinises the testes and the brain through the release of the androgenen testoerone.
  • The presence of the SRY gene dertermines biological sex irrespective of 'XY ' chromosome combinations.
  • For instance research has show that XY males with non-functioning SRY genes have devolped into females and carry out feminine gender stereotypes.
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Supporting Evidence

Quandango et al (1977)

Found that female monkeys exposed prenatally to testerone showed more 'rough and tumble' behaviour, dominance, aggression and chase behaviour than other females.

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Evoultionary Explanations of Gender

  • Evolutionary explanations of gender argue that men and women have evolved unconcious psychological mechanisns which cause them to behave in different ways to increase chances of conception, birth and survival of their offspring.
  • It is adaptve for men to be sexually promiscious as they produce infinite amounts of sperm.
  • In constrast women can only concieve limited offspring so tend to be more scrutionous with their choices of potential mates.
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Supporting Evidence

Ridley (2003)

Carried out a meta-anylasis over 30 different cultures which demostrate men are more sexually promiscious than females which supports what the evolutionary approach predicts.

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Biosocial Approach to Gender Devolpment

  • The biosocial approach believes that both biological and social factors interacting with each other determine gender devolpment.
  • The approach believes that the biological sex and the label 'boy or girl' is the most important influence in the way adults and other children treat the child.
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Supporting Evidence

Smith and Lloyd (1928)

dressed babies in non-specfic gender clothes and labelled them either boy or girl names. They found that adults played with them according to their gender label rather than their temperment.

Condry (1976)

asked 200 adults to describe emotions when a  child was named either David (male) or Dana (female). He found that same behaviour was labelled angry for david but dana's behaviour was labelled as fear.

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Explanation of Gender Dysphoria

  • Gender Dysphoria is a psychological disorder whereby someone cause confusion between their biological sex, gender identity and gender roles.
  • They sometimes experience distress and sometimes extreme anxiety about their own gender and biological sex.
  • This can be described as gender identity disorder. Although they are aware of their Gender Identity they feel they are trapped in the wrong body.
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Biosocial Explanation of Gender Dysphoria

  • The biosocial approach explains gender dysphoria as resulting from a complex interaction of both bioogical and social factors.
  • So even though the biological factors such as hormone predispose biological sex, through interactions with certain social and enviromental factors, such as a abstence of father during the phallic stage, people can become confused.
  • Genetic Influence- Hare et al (2009) found a significant correlation between gender dysphoria and variations of the androgenen receptor gene.
  • Hormonal Influence - Kula et al (2000) concluded that sex hormones during pregnancy influences sexual behaviour in adulthood.
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Psychological explanation of Gender Dysphoria

Psychodynamic explantion argues that gender dysphoria is caused by fixation during the phallic stage of psychoseual devolpment in which males fale to resolve the oedipus conflict and the male electra conflict. Stoller (1974) found that boys who want to be boys, they have an over-close relationship ther mothers. For girls who want to be boys their mother is usually depressed. If these occur during the phallic stage this causes fixation which leads to gender dysphoria.

Behavioural Explanation suggests that gender dysphoria is caused maladaptive learning experiences. This can be through operant conditioning and through observed learning. Reker (1995) found that boys with gender dysphoria lacked a male role models

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