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Discuss psychological research into the factors that influence gender roles.

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Introduction

Discuss psychological research into the factors that influence gender roles. There are many stereotypical ideas of how males and females should act; however it is important to consider why people conform to these and why such sex typed behaviour is present. Psychologists such as Kohlberg claim that a child's sex role concepts are created by their own active structuring of it's own experiences, this is called the cognitive developmental theory. Kohlberg states that children relate to same sex models as they have already developed a consistent gender identity and find it rewarding to behave in the same way as someone of the same sex. Kolhberg argues that children go through three stages before they achieve gender identity: the first of these is during the child's second and third year, when both sexes are aware of their sex but believe it is possible to change, later the child realises that sex is stable over a period of time however does not realise that sex still remains the same in different situations, for example, changing clothes. ...read more.

Middle

An adaptation of Freud's theory has been offered by Chodrow who claims girls develop a sense of gender indentity based on their close relationship with their mother, by doing this they associate femininity with feelings of closeness. In contrast, boys have to move away from their relationship with their mother in order to develop gender indentity. As we can see from Freud's psychoanalytical theory the is no empirical research to support it and no evidence supporting the Oedipus and Electra complex's. Freud's argument that boy's identification with his father would be greater if his father was a threatening one has been heavily criticised by Mussun and Rutherford who found boys are much more likely to identify with a loving supporting father than an overbearing one. Freud focused on the influence of the same-sex parent in influencing gender development in children; by doing this he ignored the impact of the opposite-sex parent, single-parent families and other members of the family along side biological and social factors. ...read more.

Conclusion

For Bandura a child's experiences construct their gender development, in other words, children learn to behave in such a way that it is rewarded and avoid behaviour that carry punishment (such as a comment like 'you look like a girl in that shirt' to a boy) This theory suggest children learn behaviour from observations of various models of the same sex, and can also be applied to ideas in the media. The effects of media stereotypes were observed by Williams who found the impact of TV was stronger in developing countries where children have relatively less information to influence their lives. In conclusion we can see that there is no real clear cut explanation to why gender roles appear, to completely understand the cause of gender roles a multi-perspective must be used combing the issues raised by psychologist such as Kohlberg and Freud yet also account for the effects social factors such as media and society has on a child's development. ...read more.

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