psychology-biological explaination of gender behaviour

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  • Created by: bethan
  • Created on: 02-06-12 18:30

The biological approach to gender differences

There is a big difference between the idea of ‘sex’ and gender’.  Sex is the biological fact of whether a person is genetically male or female. And gender is a person’s sense of who they are, whether they feel male or female.

·         Female have XX chromosomes

·         Males have XY chromosomes

The biological approach to genetic behaviour states that in fact there is no difference between sex and gender and that the person’s biological sex will determine their gender behaviour.

There can also be more extreme gender conditions:

·         XXY chromosomes this being were males are more feminine

·         XYY chromosomes this being were male are more masculine

The approach states that there are 3 stages in the development of gender behaviour these being:

·         Genes

·         Brain differences

·         Hormones

Before the first 6-8 weeks all foetuses have the same undeveloped sex organs. They all start being a girl, and from this it can then develop into either a male or female. If there is the presence of the SRY gene then the foetus will develop into a male and the absence of it will mean they will develop as a female.


Between the first 4-8 weeks after conception the gene on the 23rd chromosome instructs the gonads to release the hormone


In a male embryo the testes are instructed to release testosterone which acts on the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, without testosterone the brain would develop as the female form.

Puberty is another time when hormones are released by the hypothalamus, they effect the anterior pituitary gland and this causes the gonads to become active, this controls the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Male and female babies are exposed to both androgens and aestrogens and it’s the relative balance of both of this which is important. Over-exposure to hormones in the critical period can influence gender-related behaviour.

·         Boys who are exposed to too little testosterone may be less masculine

·         Females who are exposed to more than usual may be born with genitalia resembling that of a males.


Brain differences...

There is a clear difference in the brain of a adult female and male, this being in the function and anatomy of the hypothalamus.

·         Swaab and Flier (1985) did studies into the brain differences of females and males. They found an area of the brain called the SDN (sexually dimorphic nucleus) and part of this the the LNAH 1. They analysed 13 men and 18 females between the ages of 10-93 and found that the volume of the


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