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Sex: The biological features of a person which determines whether they are a man or a woman.

Gender: The sex that a person feels they are.

Biological approach

  • ** chromosomes is a girl.
  • XY chromosomes is a boy.
  • Hormones are released between four and eight weeks after conception. In a male embryo, the testes are instructed to release testosterone, which acts on the hypothalamus.
  • In a female embryo, hardly any hormones are released from the ovaries.
  • Clear differences can be seen in the brains of adult men and women, such as in the function and anatomy of the hypothalamus.
  • Swaab and Fliers (1985) found evidence of an area of the brain which they called 'the sexually dimorphic nucleus' INAH 1 located in the hypothalamus. They analysed 13 men and 18 women aged between 10 and 93 years old, and discovered that the volume of the sexually dimorphic nucleus was 2.5 times larger in men with 2.2 times the number of cells.
  • Shaywitz and Shaywitz (1995) discovered that whilst men and women carried out language tasks, men used only the left hemisphere of the brain, whereas women use both hemispheres.
  • Under or over-exposure to hormones during the critical period of development may influence later gender-related behaviour.

Evolutionary approach

  • Parental investment theory - Trivers (1972) argues that behavioural differences between men and women evolved due to different reproductive strategies which led to reproductive success in the past, i.e. the man mates with as many willing, fertile women as possible to produce more offspring, whilst the woman ensures survival for her few offspring.
  • Wilson argued that our ancestors lived in 'pair bonds', which provided further benefits in reproductive success. Females gained protection from a permanent male, and the males were able to guard


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