Psychology -Unit 2- Sex and Gender

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Sex and Gender


·         Sex is a biological term, a child is either male or female. The sex identity of a child can be determined and birth by biological factors such as chromosomes and hormones:

·         Male Hormone: Testosterone XY

·         Female Hormone: Oestrogen XX

·         Gender is a psychological term, it refers to ideas about the expected attitudes and behaviour of males and females in a particular culture. The gender identity of a child can be identified from the way they act, speak and dress.

·         For most people there is a match between their gender identity and sex identity.

·          For example, there is a match between sex identity and gender identity when a boy thinks and behaves in a masculine way.

·         This, however is not always the case. There may be boys who think and behave in a feminine way.

·         One distinction between sex identity and gender identity is that sex identity is defined in the same way in all cultures, whereas gender identity can be different in different cultures.

·         For example, in Britain, we distinguish between gender identity as being two things; masculine or feminine. The Mohave Indians, however, recognise four different gender identities: traditional males, traditional females, males who choose to live as women and females who choose to live as men.

·         Girls might show feminine gender behaviour by, for example, wearing pink clothes and playing with dolls.

·         Boys might show masculine gender behaviour by playing football and being aggressive.


Psychodynamic Theory of Gender Development


·         The psychodynamic theory was first described by Freud. He believed that we have thoughts and feelings that we are not aware of because they are unconscious.

·         Freud believed that development happens in five stages. The third stage is known as the phallic stage, which occurs between the ages of three and five.

·         In this stage, the child unconsciously sexually desires the opposite-sex parent and is jealous of the same-sex parent. In order to deal with these feelings and the anxiety they produce, the child begins to behave like the same-sex parent. This is known as identification. Freud believed this process occurred differently in boys and girls.








Gender Development in Boys


·         In the phallic stage, a boy is unconsciously attracted to his mother. He is jealous of his father and wants to take his place. He becomes anxious that his father will discover his feelings for his mother and will castrate him. This is known as the Oedipus complex.

·         He is therefore torn between his feelings for his mother and the fear he has of his father. In order to deal with this anxiety and resolve the conflict, he therefore gives


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