Gender: Theories and Studies

 Psychological explanations of gender development  Cognitive developmental theory, including Kohlberg  Kohlberg (1966) – Cognitive Development Theory (labelling, stability, consistency – once children see gender as constant (around 6 years old) they show gender role behaviour).  McConaghy (1979) – Young children shown line drawing where male genitals are visible through a dress – children under 5 identify as female due to clothes.  Ruble (1981) – Children with gender constancy were more sensitive to implicit messages of adverts that certain toys were ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for boys/girls.  Gender schema theory  Martin and Halverson (1981) – key to gender development is personally seeking to acquire gender information (rather than being reinforced), building in-group and out-group gender schemas.  ‘Resilience of gender beliefs’ – children have fixed gender attitudes because they ignore information which doesn’t fit their ‘in-group’ schema.  Martin and Little (1990) – under-4s with no gender stability still displayed strong gender stereotypes about what boys and girls are permitted to do.  Bussey and Bandura (1992) – 4 year olds (without gender consistency) felt bad about playing with gender-inappropriate toys.  Huston (1985) – easier to get girls to take on masculine activities than vice-versa – hard to explain except with social learning ideas (masculine traits more desirable).  Both...  Stangor and Ruble (1989) – argued that gender constancy is more concerned with the motivations of children and their activity choices – found preference for same-sex toys and clothing increased with gender constancy.  Biological influences on gender  The role of hormones and genes in gender development  Young (1966) – injected hormones into rats and reversed their gender-specific sexual behaviour.  Troche et al (2007) – 2D4DR: found no link between the ration and female traits using the BSRI in one study, but found that males with less masculine BSRI score had 2D:4DR indicating lower androgen exposure.  Swaab (1985) – found differences in an area of the hypothalamus – INAH (sexually diamorphic nucleus) in male and females at birth.  Geschmund (1987) – sex differences (e.g. girls more talkative) due to prenatal androgen exposure.

 Quagagno (1977) – exposed female monkeys to testosterone and found they became more aggressive.  Imperato and McGinley (1979) – studied the Batista family (4 children with AIS, raised as girls until they hit puberty and turned into boys) – adapted well to changing sex, supporting role of biology (but other family members had AIS…).  Money – Bruce/Brenda/David Reimer – raised as a girl after a circumcision accident until a teenager then had gender reassignment and lived as a man – always felt like a boy.  Evolutionary explanations of gender  Kuhn and Steiner – Division of Labour – men as hunters, women as gatherers, explains survival of early humans when Neanderthals didn’t. Supported by fossil evidence suggesting that female Neanderthal’s died of hunting accidents but early human females didn’t.  Buss (1989) – 10,000 participants from 37 cultures – gender differences in mate choice found to be universal. Women looked for resources, men looked for physical attractiveness and younger partners.  Baron-Cohen (2000) – Empathising-systematising distinction (men systematise, women empathise).  Taylor et al (2000) – Women also better at interpersonal concerns, linked to response to stress (tend and befriend – child protection, whereas men have ‘fight or flight’).  The biosocial approach to gender development including gender dysphoria  Biosocial approach – interactions between genetic/evolutionary and social factors lead to development of child’s gender identity/behaviour.  Money and Erhardt (1972) – first Biosocial Theory – exposure to androgens is important, but social labelling and differential treatment are key to gender identity.  Eagley and Wood (1999) – Social role theory (a more modern Biosocial theory) – evolution has shaped physical sex differences, but psychological sex differences arise from society’s sex role allocations.  Smith and Lloyd – babies in unisex snow-suits given different names are treated differently by carers (reinforcement of play etc).  Social constructionist theory – understanding of gender role is not natural but constructed by society, people are labelled male or female according to biology but there are different ways in which e.g. masculinity can be enacted (Edley and Wetherel)  Stoller – people with GD had overly close mother-son relationships – linked to childhood trauma and desire to ease mother’s anxiety.  But other research has found no more psychological problems among people with GD than among the general population.

 Zhou – BST (a nucleus in the hypothalamus) normally larger in males than in females but found to be female-sized in male-to-female transsexuals.  Chung – found this size difference only appeared in adulthood, but feelings of dysphoria generally start much earlier.  Environmental pollution – estrogens in water may affect male’s development.  Genetic conditions – genitals not matching genetic sex (Colapinto found 1/2000 cases).  Social influences on gender  Social influences on gender for example, the influence of parents, peers, schools, media  Litton and Romney (1991) – Meta-analysis of parental treatment of boys and girls aged 6 found girls more encouraged to do household chores, boys outdoor tasks.  Seagel (1987) – fathers more likely to react negatively when sons carried out feminine behaviour.  Smith and Lloyd – babies in unisex snow-suits given different names are treated differently by carers (reinforcement of play etc).  Fagot (1985) – boys more likely to be criticised by peers for feminine activities.  Morgan (1982) – more TV correlates with stronger sex-typed identity.  Fagot et al (1982) – parents how show the clearest patterns of differential reinforcement have children who are quickest to develop strong gender preferences.  Cultural influences on gender role  Margaret Mead (1935) – Different tribes in Papua New Guinea found to have very different gender roles e.g. in terms of aggression.  Williams and Best (1990) – Students from 30 nations showed broad agreement over which gender adjectives were more associated with e.g. dominant, aggressive, autonomous = male.  Buss (1989) – 10,000 participants from 37 cultures – gender differences in mate choice found to be universal. Women looked for resources, men looked for physical attractiveness and younger partners.  Chang et al (2002) – 10-item Egalitarian Gender Roles Attitudes Scale given to American and Chinese students (in UC and China). Americans emphasised importance of equality at work, Chinese at home.  Leung and Moore (2003) – Male and female ‘English Australians’ showed masculine traits compared to male and female ‘Chinese Australians’ who showed feminine traits on Bem’s SRI (explained by values of individualistic and collectivist cultures).