Sex and Gender


Sex-role stereotypes

Types of qualities + characteristics seen as appropriate for each sex. Females traditionally nurturing, co-operative, domestic, emotional, passive etc. Males traditionally strong, independent, physical, aggresive + nonemotional. 

Taught from early age eg way genders handled. Ways portrayed in media powerful sources sex-role stereotypes.

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Co-existence of male + female characteristics w/in the same person.

Olds (1981) believed androgyny higher developmental stage only reached by some, Bem (1983) argued androgynous people have diff cognitive style + adopt behaviours when necessary, are independent from gender concepts. In terms of cognitive schema theory, androgynous people are gender aschematic (not influenced by sex-role stereotypes.

Orlofsky - behavioural explanation - learned through reinforcement, allows to acquire masc + fem qualities applicable to diff situations.

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Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI)

Bem (1975), self-report measure of masc-fem + gender role. Developed angrogyny hypothesis, saw androgyny as desirable + pos. BSRI designed to measure androgyny. 60 items, 7 point scale. 20 relate to masc, 20 to fem, 20 gender neutral. Revised in 1977 for 4 categories:
 1) Masc - high masc, low fem
 2) Fem - low masc, high fem
 3) Androgynous - high masc, high fem
 4) Undifferentiated - low masc, low fem

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Sex-role stereotypes - Strengths

Eccles et al - reported children encouraged by parents to play w/ gender-typical toys, supported idea parents reinforce sex-role stereotypes.

Sex-role stereotypes differ across cultures, suggests culturally transmitted, implies learning exp strong than bio forces.

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Sex-role stereotypes - Weaknesses

Egs of stereotypes over-emphasised.

Media subjected to critcism of presentation of sex roles, portrayals become less stereotyped - but some still sterotyped, harmful effects.

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Androgyny - Strengths

Bem used BSRI to measure androgyny, 34% males + 27% females androgynous, suggests sizeable minority predominately androgynous.

BSRI good test-retest reliability as consistent results when used on diff occasions w/ same participants.

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Androgyny - Weaknesses

No explanation given as to why androgyny only occurs in some individuals, or how even tho Olds states it's a higher stage of development.

Reducing masc + dem down to single scores over-simplistic.

Cultural bias - what's defined as masc + fem differ b/ween cultures, may make some appear androgynous in Western culture when either masc or fem in their own culture.

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