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Describe and evaluate one or more cognitive development theories (CDT) of gender identity

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Describe and evaluate one or more cognitive development theories (CDT) of gender identity Cognitive development theory explains how gender identity develops first and then children pay attention to same sex role models; in comparison to the social learning theory, which in this suggests that children acquire the gender role first and then later develop an understanding of gender identity. The CDT is a theory that has age related critical stages where the maturation combines with the child's interaction with the environment so they can move through the stages. Kohlberg's theory was based on the work of Piaget. He suggested there are 3 main stages to gender identity which were: gender identity, where the child can identify their sex but not aware that it is fixed and cannot change it. (2 - 3.5 years old) gender stability, where the child is aware that their gender is fixed but are largely determined by such things like characteristics e.g. clothes and hairstyles. (3.5 - 4.5 years old) and gender constancy where the child is aware their gender is an unchanging quality. ...read more.


However the problem with interviewing and studying children of this age is the fact they are mostly all very compliant so the demand characteristics are going to frequently happen. Also the fact the children might not fully understand what it is, they are being asked to do and might have been giving answers because that was expected of them. In conclusion, the CDT theory has validity as you can relate to it, whilst being supported with good evidence of research. Martin and Halveson developed a schema theory, which could be an alternative to Kohlbergs CDT theory. A schema is a mental framework for organising experiences. This theory states that the ability to develop a schema is innate even though the content is learnt. There are no age related stages to this theory, but it is still a developmental one, seeing as it is dependent on the children's readiness to categorise information from their environment. When children mature and experience more environmental stimuli, there schemas develop being more flexible and complex. These can then hold more ambiguous information. ...read more.


This evidently supports the notation that children only notice information that is consistent with their schemas. Martin conducted another experiment where children aged 4 -5 were shown toys and told the toys were either for boys or for girls. It was found that the male children did only want to play with the 'boys toys' and not the 'girls toys'. Fagot then however said teachers tented to reinforce 'feminine' behaviours in both boys and girls such as 'being quiet' etc. however both displayed different behaviours and this suggests boys gender schemes override the reinforcement. There have also been research done by Bee that has failed to find a strong connection between gender awareness and gender typed behaviour. Archer also found that girls tend to have more flexible gender concepts and a greater tendency to engage in opposite gender activities, proving these findings are inconsistent to the theory. The schema theory is positive in the way that is has no rigid age stages and thus is more flexible. The theory also allowed individual differences and cultural differences to be taken into account while finally having face validity which means you can relate to the theory as you can see it happen. Daniel Talbot 6524 ...read more.

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