Social influences on gender


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  • Created by: Jamie
  • Created on: 09-01-12 20:55

Social influences on gender - Social Learning

Operant conditioning - Skinner

  • Behaviour is shaped by reinforcers and punishers.
  • If an action is followed by something good we are more likely to repeat it. The opposite is true if followed by something negative e.g. if a girl climbs a tree and is told off for it being innapproriate she may not climb a tree again.
  • We can deliberately manipulate behaviour using these reinforcers and punishers. For example praising or being cross with a child. This also counts for gender socialiation.

Coginitive Learning - Bandura and Walters

  • Extends the ideas of operant conditioning
  • Observing and imitating role models, remembering behaviour they have seen and repeating it later.
  • Vicarious learning, that it is responding to other people being reinforced and punished.
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Social influences on gender - Culture

Whiting and Whiting


  • Studied child rearing practices in six cultures, African, European and American. Carried out systematic observations of the children's daily lives for five minutes a day. Studied 24 3-10 year olds from each culture group.


  • That within the cultures the parents basic goals for the children are the same. Survival and attachment to the family etc...
  • They found that children's socialisation was influenced by how much work they were expected to do. In underdeveloped cultures where survival is difficult e.g. Africa, it is more important for their to be clear gender roles.


  • That there are differences in gender roles but they are more prominant in cultures where survival is hard. In richer societies the gender differences are negligable, not so important for survival.

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Social influences in gender - Culture

Margaret Mead

  • Lived in several different tribes and recorded their gender behaviour.
  • Arapesh had similar male and female gender roles, they both displayed feminine qualities and were peaceful.
  • Mundugumor were the opposite of the Arapesh, they were aggressive and war like with masculine qualities.
  • Tchambuli tribe, the owmen were dominant and men were more submissive, opposite qualities to what we expect in the western world.


  • Gerwetz found opposing evidence saying the roles were opposite to what Mead had observed in the Tchambuli tribe. Saying she had lived with them in a transitionary period in their lives.
  • Very subjective, she was living with the tribes, taking in western influences. Her research has no scientific credibility.
  • She went into the tribes with a closed mind, possibly observed what she expected to see. She later discredited most of her work.
  • She potentially disrupted the natural balance of the tribes.
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Social influences on gender - Culture


  • Children of the Lakota tribe are raised genderless until age five, when they are allowed to declare what gender they are.
  • If they are born male and declare themselves female then they are Winktae, who are highly revered members of the tribe.
  • They excell at women's crafts and instead of going to war or doing men's work they look after the children and do women's chores.
  • They can also be the lover of the chief.
  • If a Winktae names a child that child is then thought to be blessed.
  • Shows the existence of a third gender in different cultures and that culture does influence out gender development.

Whiting and Whiting Evaluation

  • Has low reliability, research team of 17 means that there are likely to be differences in personal observation.
  • Big group studied increases validity.
  • Studied pre pubescent children and did no follow up. Gender differences may become more prominant after puberty.
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