PSY 324 Childhood and Adolescence Exam 4 Study Guide 9
Chapter 13 - Development of Sex-Related Differences andGender Roles
Introduction to Chapter 13
Gender stereotypes are so engrained that it is difficult to believe that they don't containa grain of truth. Many of us find it hard to accept that there are very few psychologicalcharacteristics on which females and males differ significantly. Even the mostunbiased among us struggle with the idea that on those few psychologicalcharacteristics, the differences between women and men are 10% at the most. How canthese conclusions, based on thousands of research studies, be accurate when it is soclear to many of us that women and men are totally different in lots of ways? A large part of the answer lies in the nature of stereotypical thinking. Stereotypes are preoperational. If you look back at the characteristics of preoperational thinking, you'llsee why the stereotypes we accept seem so obviously true and are so difficult tochange. (Textbook material on
, pp. 551-552, will help clarify this.)In the case of gender stereotypes, their preoperational nature requires that everything beclassified as either female or male. There is no place in preoperational thinking for instances that violate the stereotype. Consequently, when men are seen being sensitiveor women are seen being aggressive, these instances are discounted as exceptions to the"true" nature of men and women. Even worse, many of these instances are not even perceived. They are screened out by selective attentional strategies because they don'tfit with what we "know." The very experiences that would disprove stereotypes areunlikely to be processed. As a result, when we look back through our past experiencewe can see that women really are more empathetic than men and men really are moreaggressive than women, no matter what the textbook says!Think about this. How often do you describe women and men as
?How easy or difficult is it for you to think about women and men being the same inmost ways? Do the few physical and psychological differences make it seem that theymust be different in every way?
. (p. 530)2. In Western cultures, what types of traits have been traditionally associated withmasculinity and femininity? (p. 530 and Table 13.1)
Note how gender stereotyping develops in early childhood. (p. 531) Given thatour basic concepts of gender (gender schemas) develop during our preschoolyears, it makes sense that many ideas about gender continue to be preoperational (rigid, superficial, all-or-none) in adolescence and adulthood.
As explained in the introductory comments above, gender schemas are highlyresistant to change because any experience that does not fit into our schema of