Sex and Gender: Theories of Gender development

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Psychodynamic theory of Gender development

Psychodynamic Explanation of Gender Development

Oedipus complex

1)The boy will be attracted to his mother and be jealous of his father during the phallic stage. 2) He becomes worried that his father will find out about these feelings and castrate him. 3)He is therefore torn between his desire for his mother and fear of his father. 4)In order to resolve the conflict he lets go of his feelings for his mother and identifies with his father by adopting a masculin gender role and imitating his father.

Electra complex

1) The girl is unconsciously attracted to her father and is jealous and resentful of her mother during the phallic stage. 2)She is worried that her mother will find out about the feelings she has for her father, the girl has no fear as she feels she has already been castrated. 3)She is torn between her desire for her father and the fear of losing her mother's love. 4)She identifies with her mother, through imitation and lets go of her feelings for her father.

Evaluation:1) Although there has been a rise in lone parent households there has not been a rise in homosexuality like freud suggested.

2)Other psychologists have shown that a wide range of people, not just parents, influence a childs gender development.

3)There is little evidence to support the psychodynamic explanation. The little Hans case study was carried out on one child and can therefore not be generalised.

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Social learning explanation of gender

Gender is learnt from watching and copying the behaviour of others. This includes modeling, imitation and vicarious reinforcment

1) Modeling means that an adult of another child acts as a role model and provides an example for the child to follow. This can be someone similar to them, someone powerful or someone who is loving and caring towards the child.

2)Imitation means that the child copies the behaviour shown by the model

3)Vicarious reinforcment means that the child leards from what happens through the role model when the model carries out a particular behaviour. If the model is rewarded for the behaviour, the child is more likely to imitate them, whereas if the model is punished the child is less likely to imitate them.

Evaluation:1) It does not explain why children who were brought up in the same house with the same role models can behave differently (Eg brothers)

2) This approach believes that gender is learnt, it therefore ignores the biological differences between males and females.

3)This study is well supported by research.

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Gender Schema explanation of Gender

Gender schema Theory:

Peoples ideas about gender are put into gender schemas. These are mental building blocks of knowaledge that contain information about each gender such as behaviours and traits. Gender schemas develop with age. Once they are aware of the two different sexes (at roughly the age of 2), they learn about gender from what they see and expirience around them. At this stage their ideas are ridgid and stereotyped. As they grow older, they gain more knowaledge and their gender schemas become more flexible. When we are children eg. 6 we are aware of the different traits of the opposite sex but do know much about them as we try to avoid them as they are for the oposite sex.

Evaluation: 1) This theory has intuative apeal, which means it fits with our experiences.

2)It does not explain why gender begins to develop at the age of 2.

3)It does not explain why some children are more highly gender schematised than others.

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