Sex & Gender

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  • Created by: leah
  • Created on: 03-06-13 18:29


Sex is a biological term. A child is either male or female. The sex identity of a child can be identified at birth by biological factors such as chromosomes and hormones;

The male hormone is known as testosterone 

The female hormone is known as oestrogen

The male sex chromosomes are XY

The female sex chromosomes are XX

Gender is a psychological term.It refers to ideas about the expected attitudes and behaviour of males and females in a particular culture .The gender identity of a child can be identified by the way they act dress and speak. 

For most people there is a match between their sex and gender identity for example when a boy thinks and behaves in a masculine wat .This however is not always the case.There may be boys who think and behave in a feminine way

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Case study

Boys will be boys?

Mothers say bringing up boys is very different to bringing up girls. One mother stated that while her daughter likes singing and playing with her dolls, her sons enjoy rough and tumble play and getting dirty. When they come home from school they like to play football or cricket in the garden.She says that the house is never tidy while they're around because they leave thier toys and clothes wherever they go. Her husband tells her not to try to change them because that is what boys are like.

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Psychodynamic Theory

BOYS-Oedipus complex

In the phallic stage, a boy is unconsiously attracted to his mother. He is jelous of his father and wants to take his place.He becomes anxious that his father will discover his feelings for his mother and will castrate him.This is known as the Oedipus complex. He is therefore torn between the desire he has for his mother and the fear he has of his father, In order to deal with this axiety and resolve the conflict, he therefore gives up his feelings for his mother and identifies with his father.This means he begins to behave like his father and adopts a masculine gender role by doing the things his father does. He has resolved the Oedipus comples

GIRLS-Electra complex

In the phallic stage, a girl is unconsiously attracted to her father and is jelous and resentful of her mother. She is worried that her mother will find out about the feelings she has for her father. According to freud, the girl believes she has already been castrated so she is not as fearful as the boy. She does, however, feel conflict between the feelings she has for her father and the fear of losing her mothers love.This is known as the Electra complex.To resolve this she identifies with her mother and behaves in a similar way to her

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Freud 1909

Freud carried out a case study to investigate the gender development of a boy known as 'little hans'

Aim:To investigate Little Hans phobia

Method:Hans father wrote to freud to tell him about Hans's Development.At the age of four Hans developed a phobia of horses.He was frightend that a hourse might bite himor fall down.He was particulary afraid of large white horses with black around the mouth freud analysed this information

Results: Freud claimed that Hans was experiencing the Oedipus complex. He unconsiously sexually desired his mother and saw his father as a rival and feared castration. He displaced the fear of his father onto the horses. The white horse with back around the mouth represented his father who has a dark beard. His fear of being bitten by a horse represented his fear of castration and his fear or horses falling down was his unconcious desire to see his father dead.

conclusion: This supports freuds ideas about the oedipus complex

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Gender develoment in a lone parent household:

According to Freud, if a child is brought up in a lone parent household, he/she will have poorly developed gender identity.This is because the child does not experience ans resolve the oedipus/electra complex if the boy is raised without a father, he will not develop a masculine gender identity because he has not had a father to identify with during the phallis stage of development. Freud claimed that such a boy would become homosexual Freud also claimed that boys raised without a father will have a gender identity problem

Case study: the case of carls who was 8 years old had a gender identity problem. He had a feminien voice and liked to talk about topics such as dresses cosmentics and delivering babies. He preferred to play with girls and frequently played house with his sister. He pretended to be ill and or injured rather than play with other boys. Carl lived with his mother and did not have a stable father figure in his life

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Evaluation of the psychodynamic theory of gender d

Freuds ideas are very difficult to test because they are baes on unconscious thoughts and feelings.

although there has been a rise in the number of children raised in lone-parent families, there has not been an increase in the homosexual population as freud suggested would happen. Other psychologists have shown that a wide range of people, not just parents, influence a child's gender development  there is little evidence to support the idea of the oedipus and electra conflict. the little hans case study was carried out on one child and therefore the findings can not be generalised

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Social learning theory of gender development

Social learning theorists believe that gender is learnt from watching and copying the behaviour of others. The process involved in social learning theory are modelling, imitation and vicarious reinforcement

Modelling means that and adult or another child, acts as a role model and provides and example for the child to follow. People who are mose likely to be a role models for the child include those who are, similar to them-friends same sex parents, Powerful- teachers, older bothers and sisters,Loving and caring towards the child-Parents,teachers. Imitation means that the child copies the behaviour shown by the model 

vicarious reinforcement means that the child leans from what happens to a rolde model when to model carries out a particular behaviour.If the model is rewarded for thier behaviour, the child is more likely to imitate them, whereas if the model is punished the child is less likely to imitate them.

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Perry and Brussey 1979

Aim: To show that children imitate behaviour carried out by same-sex role models.

Method:children were shown films of role models carrying out activites that were unfamiliar to the children. In one condition, all of the male role models played with one activity while all the female role models played with the other activity. In the second condition some of the male role models and some of the female roles models played with one activity while the other male and female role models pleayed with the other acitivity.

Results: In the first condition, the children imitated what they had seen the same-sex role models doing. The boys chose the activity the male role models had played with while the girls choce the activity the female models had played with.In the second condition,there was no difference in the activities the boys and girls chose.

Conclusion: When children are in an unfamiliar situation they will observe the behaviour of the same-sex role models.this gives them information about whether the activity is appropriate for their sex if it is the shild will imitate that behaviour

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Gender schema theory

Gender schemas are made up of knowledge we have about each gender. They contain information about behaviours,clothes,activites,personality traites and roles, about which are for males and which are for females.

Martin and Halverson believe thar gender schemas devleop wth age: from the age of 2 children know whether they are a boy or a girl. they are able to identify other people as belonging to the same sex as them or belonging to the opposite sex.

highly gender schematised: Where gender is an important way of thinking about the world so information is organised according to what is gender appropriate and what is gender inappropriate.

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Martin 1989

Aim: To show that childrens understanding of gender becomes less stereotypes and therefore more flexible as they get older 

Method: Children heard stories about the toys that male and female characters enjoyed playing with. Some of the characters were described ad liking gender stereotyped activities, while other characters were described as liking non-stereotyped activites. The children were then asked to prodict what other toys each character would or would not like to play with.

Results:The younger children used only tje sex of the character to decide what other toys he/she would/would not like. the older children however considered both the sex of the character and the other toys that the character enjoyed playing with. For example, they would say that a girl who liked playing with trucks would be less likely to want to play with a doll.

Conclusion:Older children have a more flexible veiw of gender than younger children do.

Evaluation: The study was conducted in a laboratory, so it lacks ecological validity & does not explain why gender begins to develop at the age of 2 and does not explain why children choose gender appropriate toys before they are able to correctly identify themselves as male or female

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A comprehensive and highly useful set of revision cards.

Tom the destroyer

This is one ***y resource

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