Cognitive explanations: Gender schema theory


Gender schema theory

  • Argue that children's understanding of gender increases with age
  • Gender schema theory shares Kohlberg's view that children develop their understanding of gender by actively structuring their own learning, rather than by passively observing and imitating role models

Gender schema acquired with gender identity

  • A gebder schema is a generalised representation of everything we know in relation to gender and gender-appropriate behaviour
  • Once a child has established gender identity around the age of 2-3, they will begin to search the environment for info that encourages development of gender schema

Schema direct behaviour and self-understanding

  • Schema expand to include a wide range of behaviours and personality traits
  • For young children, schema are likely to be formed around stereotypes, boys play with trucks, girls play with dools
  • These provide a framework that directs experience as well as the child's understanding of itself
  • By 6 years of age, the child has a rather fixed and stereotypical idea about what is appropriate for its gender
  • Children are likely to misremember/disregard info that does not fit with their existing schema



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