Kohlberg's Theory

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  • Created by: Beth_Gee
  • Created on: 15-04-14 16:10

Kohlberg’s Theory (1966)

-Staged theory of gender development

-child cognition matures --> understanding of gender

Stage 1: Gender Identity (2-3 years)

Child recognises that he/she is a boy/girl

Stage 2: Gender Stability (3-7years)

Awareness of gender is fixed. Child accepts that males remain male and female. Little boys no longer think they will grow up to be a mummy and girls will recognise that they will not grow up into Batman

Stage 3: Gender Consistency (7-12 years)

Child will recognise that the superficial changes in appearance or activities do not alter gender. Even when a girl wears jeans or plays football, or when a boy has long hair. The child’s gender remains constant.

Children will be affected in particular ways by male/female models through the developmental stages and their cognition matures. Once children identify themselves as a boy or girl they will pay more attention to same sex models and start to imitate behaviour. Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) termed this self-socialisation. The process is independent of other influences such as parental reinforcement. When children reach gender stability and consistency --> motivated to learn the behaviour that is appropriate and expected of their gender and sex-roles = internalised.

Kohlberg believed that gender consistency was due to the acquisition of gender stereotypes not affect of e.g society.

Consistency achieved = understand true gender differences between male/female --> acquire gender stereotypes.

Evaluation of Kohlberg

Testing Kohlberg’s Theory Slaby and Frey (1975)

--> Wanted to test gender identity; to assess gender stability over time; look for evidence of consistency across situations.

-         Used 55 children between 2 and 5 1/2  --> interview to test identity, stability and consistency

Ø  Identity Questions: Presented images of people or doll ‘Is this a boy or a girl?’ ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’

Ø  Stability Questions: ‘When you were a baby were you a little boy or a little girl?’ ‘When you grow up will you be a mummy or a daddy?’


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