Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Gender

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now

Want to get better grades?

Nope, I’m not ready yet

Get free, full access to:

  • Flashcards
  • Notes
  • Explanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Gender

This is an introduction to gender. We will briefly look into the topics set as part of the A-Level syllabus. These include sex and gender, androgyny, the BSRI, and the role of chromosomes and hormones, including atypical sex chromosome patterns. We will move on to cognitive, psychodynamic, and social learning explanations of gender. Finally, we will explore the influence of culture on gender roles and atypical gender development.

Since this topic is called ‘gender’ it will primarily focus on the societal conception of gender rather than biological differences between men and women (sex).

Gender is the cultural expression of our biological sex. Often, this is governed by societal stereotypes.

For example, in western societies, men are often expected to be more aggressive and women are expected to be more caring. In some cases, people do not feel that their sex matches the gender they are assigned by society, this is known as gender dysphoria.

Sex, gender, and androgyny

Let’s take a look at what A-Level psychology can teach us about sex, gender, and androgyny.

What is the difference between sex and gender?

Sex refers to the biological differences between males and females. This includes differences in chromosomes, hormones, and anatomy.

Gender Difference between sex and genderStudySmarterDifference between sex and gender, YB - StudySmarter Original

Gender refers to the psychological and cultural differences between males and females. This includes attitudes, behaviours, and social roles. These are often stereotypical and do not necessarily fit with someone’s personal experience of gender.

In this topic, we will explore the different explanations of gender development, including biological, cognitive, social, and psychodynamic explanations.

Androgyny and the BSRI

Androgyny is an expression of gender characterized by a balance of typically male and female characteristics. The key here is that androgyny implies an equal balance between both genders.

For example, a highly masculine woman would not be considered androgynous.

Bem’s 1974 Sex Role Inventory was developed to measure this. It consisted of 40 characteristics commonly identified as either ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Participants had to rate themselves on a 1-7 scale to identify if they were more masculine, feminine, or androgynous.

It is important to note that, although Bem’s study is called the ‘Sex Role Inventory’, he was actually studying what we understand today as gender. This is because he was not studying the biological differences between men and women, but the differences in their expression of gender stereotypes.

The role of chromosomes and hormones in sex

Sex refers to the biological differences between men and women. These differences take many forms:

  • Chromosomes: chromosomal structure differs in men (XY) and women (XX).

  • Hormones: these influence the development of reproductive organs and sexual characteristics, for example:

    • Testosterone: the hormone which controls the development of male sex organs

    • Estrogen: the hormone which controls the development of female sex organs.

    • Oxytocin: a hormone produced in much higher amounts by women and used in reproduction and birth.

Atypical sex chromosome patterns

Although most people conform to the XY / XX chromosome patterns, some people have atypical chromosomes. Two examples of this are Klinefelter's syndrome and Turner’s syndrome.

Klinefelter’s syndrome

A syndrome affecting men, Klinefelter’s syndrome is when a person has an extra X chromosome. This is characterized by a lanky physique, small, infertile testes, and enlarged breasts. The syndrome affects one in every 660 males.

Turner’s syndrome

This is when women have only one X chromosome. This causes developmental abnormalities such as underdeveloped ovaries, shortness, and infertility.

Gender Turner’s syndrome StudySmarterTurners syndrome, YB - StudySmarter Originals

Cognitive explanations of gender

There are two cognitive approaches to gender that we’ll look at, Kohlberg’s theory and the gender schema theory.

Kohlberg’s theory

One of the first explanations of gender development, Kohlberg’s theory states that gender develops in three stages:

  • Stage one - gender identity: at around two years old, the child begins to recognize their gender and the gender of others.

  • Stage two - gender stability: at around four years old, the child now understands that their gender is ‘fixed’ and that they will grow up to be a boy or a girl.

  • Stage three - gender constancy: at around six or seven years old, the child realizes their gender is consistent over time and situations. As such, they begin to behave in ‘gender appropriate’ ways and identify with people of the same gender.

Gender schema theory

A schema is a cognitive framework derived from experience which helps us to process information. Therefore, gender schemas are a set of beliefs and expectations about gender derived from experience. Gender schemas direct someone’s understanding of their own gender and gender-appropriate behaviour in general.

Gender Gender norms StudySmarterGender norms, YB - StudySmarter Originals

Psychodynamic approach to gender

The psychodynamic theory of gender is probably one of the most famous theories to come out of psychology. Freud’s Oedipus complex and Electra complex state that gender is a result of attraction to one parent and fear/jealousy of the other. This fear leads to identification and internalization, wherein children internalize the behaviours of their parents, essentially inheriting gender identity.

Social learning theory

In the module, we discussed how social learning approaches combines learning theory with cognitive factors to explain behaviour. For example, using indirect and direct reinforcement to explain thoughts and behaviour.

Social learning theory explains gender by stating that ‘gender-appropriate’ behaviour, or behaviour that conforms to gender stereotypes, is likely to be rewarded and thus, reinforced. Indirect reinforcement of gender-conforming behaviour also takes place when children see it rewarded in others, such as on TV. Finally, children also identify with the people around them and model the gender roles they display in an attempt to ‘be like’ them.

The influence of culture and media on gender roles

As previously mentioned, culture and media can play a big role in gender formation. In this section on gender, we will explore the cultural differences in gender roles as well as the media’s influence on gender roles. This will include discussions surrounding the categorisation of gender in western media, where swaying from one of the ‘accepted’ gender roles will earn scorn, compared to others.

We will also discuss the role of media in gender roles, for instance, children watching ‘gender specific’ cartoons.


Gender - Key takeaways

  • Gender is a social construct.

  • Sex is the biological difference between men and women.

  • Androgyny refers to a balance between ‘male’ and ‘female’ characteristics.

  • Men have XY chromosomes and women have XX chromosomes.

  • Examples of atypical sexual development include Klinefelter’s syndrome and Turner’s syndrome.

  • Cognitive explanations of gender include Kohlberg’s theory and gender schema theory.

  • The psychodynamic approach, pioneered by Freud, views gender development as the result of a child’s jealousy/fear towards their parent of the same sex.

  • Social learning theory states that gender is the result of learning and identification.

Frequently Asked Questions about Gender

This is a contested issue in psychology and beyond. Psychologists recognise that gender is a social construct, meaning that many genders may be constructed and that gender can change over time. However, socially, the majority of people think there are two genders: male and female.

According to psychologists, gender affects our behavior through the social expectations attached to gender.

Gender development refers to the way gender is socially learned through reinforcement. Gender develops when people begin to adopt the socially established behaviour associated with their sex.

Gender is the cultural expression of our biological sex.

Androgyny is an expression of gender characterised by a balance of typically male and female characteristics.

Final Gender Quiz

Question

who created the gender schema theory?

Show answer

Answer

Martin and Halverston

Show question

Question

when was the gender schema theory created

Show answer

Answer

1981.0

Show question

Question

what is the gender schema theory?

Show answer

Answer

it is a psychological theory that suggests that a child's perception and development of their gender identity comes from a certain type of thought pattern called a schema.

Show question

Question

does the gender schema theory support kohlberg's theory?

Show answer

Answer

it agrees with his theory and adds some explantion to the development of gender identity throughout childhood, however it does not provide any research evidence for kohlberg's theory

Show question

Question

what type of theory is the gender schema theory?

Show answer

Answer

This theory is a cognitive theory, meaning that it focuses on our thought processes and how they can explain certain psychological phenomena.

Show question

Question

who first proposed the idea of a schema?

Show answer

Answer

frederick bartlett

Show question

Question

describe the schema children first develop about their gender

Show answer

Answer

the first, basic schema a child develops about their gender is made up of external, superficial information and helps them understand who is part of their gender in-group and out-group

Show question

Question

what is an in group?

Show answer

Answer

an in group is a social group or type of person that someone identifies with

Show question

Question

what is an out group?

Show answer

Answer

an out group is a social group of type of person that someone does not identify as part of

Show question

Question

how do in groups and out groups help children develop their gender identities?

Show answer

Answer

as children begin to identify with their gendered in group, they learn from those around them within their in group about how their gender behaves, and can emulate these behaviours to develop their gender identity.

Show question

Question

name a study that supports the gender schema theory

Show answer

Answer

Liben & Signorella 1993

Show question

Question

when do martin and halverston suggest that gender identities begin to form?

Show answer

Answer

from age 2 onwards

Show question

Question

what is a methodological issue associated with conducting interviews with child participants

Show answer

Answer

demand characteristics

Show question

Question

which of these groups of people do children tend to consider more favourable than the other?

Show answer

Answer

in group

Show question

Question

when was kohlberg's theory created?

Show answer

Answer

1966.0

Show question

Question

what psychological approach does Kohlberg use to understand gender development?

Show answer

Answer

cognitive

Show question

Question

when does the labelling stage occur

Show answer

Answer

2-3 years

Show question

Question

what occurs during the labelling stage?

Show answer

Answer

the labelling stage is where is where children begin to identify the gender expressions of themselves and the people around them. For example, they are able to tell others their gender and identify those of others from their outward appearances.

Show question

Question

when does the stability stage occur?

Show answer

Answer

4 years old

Show question

Question

what occurs during the stability stage?

Show answer

Answer

the stability stage is when children begin to recognize how, in the case of cisgender people, gender stays constant as we age. This means that they understand how girls will grow into women and boys will grow to become men.

Show question

Question

when does the consistency stage occur?

Show answer

Answer

6-7 years old

Show question

Question

what occurs during the consistency stage?

Show answer

Answer

the consistency stage is when gender becomes a more fixed concept for the child. At this stage, they realize that external changes such as hair growth and clothing choices do not change people's gender identity.

Show question

Question

what other cognitive theory does kohlberg's theory align with?

Show answer

Answer

piaget's stages of development (1954)

Show question

Question

what is conservation as a cognitve skill?

Show answer

Answer

Conservation is a child's cognitive ability to understand that even when the appearances of a person or object change, more stable properties such as mass and quantity do not change.

Show question

Question

what is an example of conservation?

Show answer

Answer

if you take two equal glasses of water and pour one into a taller, thinner glass and ask the child which glass has more water, a child who has acquired the skill of conservation would be able to understand that both glasses still hold an equal amount of water.

Show question

Question

what is conservation in terms of gender?

Show answer

Answer

In relation to the child's gender development, their skill in conservation allows them to also understand that a person's gender does not change based on external properties such as the activities they participate in or the way that they dress.

Show question

Question

what is a critcism of kohlbergs theory?

Show answer

Answer

Kohlberg's theory is criticized for its lack or explanation as to how and why these gender stages occur.

Show question

Question

What was the results of thompsons 1975 study?

Show answer

Answer

In this study, researchers tested a group of children between the ages of 2 and 3 years old on their ability to correctly identify their own gender and the gender of others. Thompson found that the older children were able to correctly identify genders more often than the younger children, suggesting that this skill develops between these two age groups.

Show question

Question

describe what cognitive approaches are in psychology

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive approaches focus on our thought processes, and how they can explain our behaviors and certain psychological phenomena. Cognitive approaches use techniques such as computer models and introspective studies to investigate how our thoughts influence us.

Show question

Question

what techniques are used in cognitive approaches?

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive studies use a range of methods such as case studies, questionnaires, lab experiments and interviews to find out about what thought patterns we have and what these mean for us.

Show question

Question

when are cognitive approaches considered to have begun?

Show answer

Answer

1967.0

Show question

Question

what assumption do we need to make when using the cognitive approach to understand gender?

Show answer

Answer

To use the cognitive approach to explain gender and its development, we must first base our theories on the assumption that gender identity is a cognitive concept, that it is something within our minds and not something biologically determined or strictly behavioural.

Show question

Question

how does our physical development help us to understand complex ideas such as gender identity?

Show answer

Answer

As our brains physically develop, our cognitive abilities begin to mature, meaning that we are capable of more complex thought.

Show question

Question

who suggested that our gender identities develop in a series of atges between the ages of 2 and 7?

Show answer

Answer

Lawrence Kohlberg

Show question

Question

what were kohlberg's stages of gender development and when do they occur?

Show answer

Answer

gender labelling (ages 2-3), gender stability (age 4) and gender consistency (ages 6-7)

Show question

Question

what is one concept that children learn as they mature through kohlberg's stages?

Show answer

Answer

they learn the idea that gender is relatively constant that does not change based on superficial factors such as clothing.

Show question

Question

what is a strength of kohlberg's theory?

Show answer

Answer

it is supported by many studies, such as Thompson (1975) and Munroe et al (1984)

Show question

Question

what is a weakness of kohlberg's theory?

Show answer

Answer

A weakness of this theory is that the theory is simply descriptive rather than explanatory

Show question

Question

who suggested that gender identities develop through the use of cognitive representations of concepts known as schemas?

Show answer

Answer

Carol Martin and Charles Halverston

Show question

Question

what is an example of a schema?

Show answer

Answer

a child may develop a schema about dogs, that contains the knowledge that dogs are furry creatures with four legs.

Show question

Question

what is a strength of the gender schema theory?

Show answer

Answer

there are studies that support the theory, such as a 1993 study by Liben and Signorella.

Show question

Question

what is a weakness of the gender schema theory

Show answer

Answer

A lot of the research that is used to support the theory is conducted using interviews on young children, which makes demand characteristics more likely.

Show question

Question

What are chromosomes?

Show answer

Answer

Chromosomes are made of DNA which is made of genes that determine the characteristics of living things. Therefore, chromosomes determine the characteristics of living things.

Show question

Question

How many chromosomes do humans have?

Show answer

Answer

23 pairs or 46 overall.

Show question

Question

Which chromosome influences sex?


Show answer

Answer

The last

Show question

Question

Give the chromosome structure for males.


Show answer

Answer

XY

Show question

Question

What is the chromosome structure for females?


Show answer

Answer

XX

Show question

Question

Most gender development comes about as a result of what?


Show answer

Answer

Hormones

Show question

Question

In the womb, hormones encourage the development of ____________.


Show answer

Answer

The brain and reproductive organs.

Show question

Question

At what stage of life do secondary sexual characteristics begin to develop? 


Show answer

Answer

Adolescence

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Gender quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.