Unit One Psychology

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Discuss sex differences in parental investment

The focus of this question is on parental behaviour, and Trivers’ parental investment theory . This states that the sex most involved in bearing and caring for the offspring is likely to be the choosier when it comes to mates. In humans this is the female. As she has a limited supply of eggs, carries the baby for nine months, and is most likely to be responsible for its care over the following years, she needs to be choosier when it comes to mates. Males, on the other hand, have an almost unlimited supply of sperm and little obligatory involvement in care for the offspring. Their most effective strategy would seem to be to mate with as many females as possible i.e. to be less choosy but to prioritise reproductive potential.

Other aspects of sex differences in parental investment include parent-offspring conflict and paternal uncertainty – the female knows she is the mother, but males can never be sure they are the father. Implications of this include mate retention strategies and sex differences in attitudes to jealousy. There are also implications for attitudes to stepchildren. The evolutionary approach assumes the aim of mating is to ensure the success of your genetic material. This would predict that stepparents would not care as much for stepchildren as for their biological children.

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Discuss sex differences in parental investment

Other features of reproductive behaviour, such as mate choice, can be directly relevant to the issue of parental investment. However such material must be presented in the context of parental investment to earn marks. For example, explanations for female mate choice such as the ‘**** sons’ hypothesis, or Zahavi’s ‘handicap’ approach are unlikely to be directly relevant to parental investment, which is the degree to which parents contribute to the care and upbringing of offspring.

The Specification refers only to ‘sex differences in parental investment’, which might include research with non-human animals. However it is a subsection of ‘Evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour’, and as such the focus must be on human behaviour for marks across the scale. Research with non-human animals can be used to illustrate or emphasise particular points and earn marks, but answers focusing entirely or predominantly on non-human animals will not move out of Basic for AO1 or AO2/3.

Buss’s 1989 study of 37 cultures, looking at mate choice in the context of evolutionary ideas on parental investment. There was impressive cross-cultural agreement that females value financial prospects, ambition and industriousness more than men, while men value good looks and a younger partner more than females.

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Discuss gender schema theory.

AO1 material will be a description of gender schema theory eg Martin & Halverson. This is based on the development of gender identity (boy or girl) at about age 2-3, after which the child actively seeks out appropriate behaviours for their own gender and ignores information that does not ‘fit’ with their schema. Toys, for instance, become categorised as belonging to boys or girls. The development of gender schemas also leads to the formation of ingroups and outgroups. The concept of ‘schemas’ is difficult to understand and describe at this level.

Various aspects of schemas would also be creditworthy. These include outlines of what a schema is and how they develop and become more detailed and elaborate over time. The origins of gender schemas would also be relevant. Although not completely detailed, there is evidence that parent’s gender schemas play an important role.

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Discuss gender schema theory.

These generally focus on the early development of gender schemas (e.g Campbell et al., 2004) or the influence of parents (e.g. Tenenbaum & Leaper, 2002). Other studies investigate ingroup and outgroup processes, or the rigidity of gender stereotypes. It is important for marks above Basic that implications of findings for gender schema theory are clear. Methodological

evaluation of studies may earn marks if the implications for the theory (e.g. through the reliability and validity of findings) are clear. Comparison with alternative theories e.g. Kohlberg, or the biosocial approach to gender, would be another effective source of AO2/3 credit, as long as the focus remains on gender schema theory.

Issues, debates and approaches in this area include the relative contributions of genetics and the environment to gender development i.e. the nature-nurture debate. Gender schema theory emphasises the importance of parents and peers in the formation and maintenance of schema, while the biological approach emphasises the genetic unchangeable nature of gender development.

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Discuss Kohlberg’s theory of gender development.

The stages themselves are: gender identity, gender stability, gender constancy (or consistency). Each stage has particular characteristics and occurs at specified ages (e.g. 2-3 years old, 3-7 years old, 7-12 years old).gender constancy/consistency (the idea that even if girls wear jeans or cut their hair short, they still remain girls). It is essential that answers above Basic are reasonably accurate and detailed.

Kohlberg’s sequence of stages has been supported. However subsequent research (e.g. emerging from gender schema theory) has suggested that gender development (e.g. sex-role stereotyping) may begin earlier than Kohlberg suggests. Issues of cultural bias would be relevant. Other approaches, such as gender schema theory or the biological and psychodynamic perspectives,

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Discuss Kohlberg’s theory of gender development.

Kohlberg’s theory are clear i.e. issues of informed consent and psychological damage are unlikely to be creditworthy.Indicative issues/debates/approaches in the context of Kohlberg’s cognitive developmental theory of gender development: approaches – cognitive and developmental, biological, behavioural, psychodynamic: gender and cultural issues. For instance, there is research evidence that there may be gender differences in gender development that Kohlberg does not allow for.

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Outline and evaluate Vygotsky’s theory of cognitiv

Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development can be described at various levels. He emphasises the sociocultural context of cognitive development and the key role of language. Other important ideas include include the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and the importance of the instructor and scaffolding. At a more detailed level he proposes stages of concept formation (vague syncretic etc.) and also proposes different functions for speech at different stages of development.

Vygotsky’s stages of speech: pre-intellectual or social speech (0 – 3 years old), egocentric speech (3 – 7 years old), inner speech (7+ years old). Stages of concept formation: vague-syncretic (trial and error); complex (appropriate strategies, but main attributes not identified); potential concept stage (identify one attribute or feature at a time); mature concept stage (identify several attributes/features at a time).

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Outline and evaluate Vygotsky’s theory of cognitiv

Although relatively understudied relative to Piaget’s theory there are by now a number of accessible studies that examine various aspects of Vygotsky’s model. In particular the zone of proximal development and the role of the instructor have been investigated (e.g. Mc Naughton & Leyland, 1990). Another important area for evaluating the theory is through its applications to education, for instance the teacher’s role in the ZPD and scaffolding, peer tutoring, the importance of language and inner speech in early learning.

Further commentary might include the cultural relativity of Vygotsky’s work, and his overemphasis on sociocultural factors at the expense of biological influences on cognitive development. Candidates may introduce alternative theories such as Piaget’s,

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Description of the biosocial approach to gender de

The broad form of the biosocial approach sees gender development as representing an interaction between biological and social/cultural factors. Biological factors include genes (XX or XY) and the organising effects of prenatal hormones such as testosterone. Social/cultural factors include early socialisation based on cultural attitudes to gender stereotyping (masculinity and femininity); these can involve labelling (boy or girl) by parents and peers.

Narrower views of the biosocial approach focus more closely on factors such as the baby/parent interaction, eg with the biologically determined temperament of the baby eliciting particular forms of interaction with the parent. These would vary with the baby’s temperament and in theory may lead to different long term outcomes in relation to gender development. Either approach is acceptable.

Gender dysphoria is included in this part of the Specification. There are a variety of explanations for gender dysphoria, including attachment problems, parental influence, psychoanalytic approaches, and biological factors (sex hormones, genetics). It can be used to illustrate and discuss the biosocial approach to gender development and can earn marks across the scale if used in this way.

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Description of the biosocial approach to gender de

Bruce Reimer, CAH syndrome, influence of parents and peers on gender development and with non-human animals (eg effects of manipulating prenatal levels of sex hormones on later sex-typed behaviours). Dr money and the AIS (andreian insensitivity syndrome) batista family of females that turned into males. 

reference to the value of the biosocial model in combining biological and social/cultural influences. Issues, debates and approaches in this area include the nature-nurture debate. If evidence supports the biosocial model then we have a combination of nature (biological) and nurture (social/culture). Other IDA that would be relevant include free will/determinism in relation to gender, socially-sensitive research and cultural aspects of gender development.

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Description of the relationship between sexual sel

For AO1 credit candidates may outline the background to research on sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour in terms of evolutionary theory, selfish gene etc. Also relevant would be a description of the detailed processes involved in sexual selection, including intrasexual (mate competition) and intersexual (mate choice) selection. Other factors affecting mate choice, such as parental investment theory, and variations such as short and long term mate preferences, would also be creditable AO1 material.

Research with non-human animals may earn AO1 and AO2/AO3 marks insofar as it is made explicitly relevant to human reproductive behaviour.

Research studies may be presented as either AO1 (illustrating the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour) or as AO2/AO3.

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Description of the relationship between sexual sel

Buss’s cross-cultural studies and dating research,Issues, debates and approaches in this area include free will and determinism. If sexual selection, human reproductive behaviour and the relationships it involves are driven by purely evolutionary considerations, then they would be highly predictable. In fact human reproductive behaviour has changed dramatically over the last century, with non-heterosexual relationships, widespread use of contraception, and couples choosing not to have children. This implies that we have more control (free will) over our behaviour than is implied by the evolutionary approach.

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