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Discuss the way psychological research enables us to understand the development of gender roles.

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Introduction

Discuss the way psychological research enables us to understand the development of gender roles One interpretation of gender is that it refers to the sociocultural aspect of being male or female, not just the physiological aspects that make up a gender. Every child develops a gender, and with this has to come a gender role, which is a set of expectations that prescribe how males and females should think, act and feel. Kohlberg's theory, suggests that people go through three stages in developing an understanding of gender. The first stage is basic gender identity, in which the child realizes he/she is a boy or a girl. The child then has to accept that he/she is a male/female forever, which happens in stage 2, gender stability. ...read more.

Middle

Kohlberg's theory is based on Piaget's theory of cognitive development, and assumes that that as cognition matures, so does the child's understanding of gender. The stages of Kohlberg's theory also tie in with Piaget's four stages of cognitive development. However social learning theories suggest "gender-role learning is the outcome of the accumulating learning experiences that the individual has in a particular social environment." According to this perspective children's gender development comes through modelling, observation and imitation of adults. Children learn gender role stereotypes largely through observational learning. Children also learn from the application of reward and punishment of gender-appropriate and gender-inappropriate by parents and peers alike. Parents can also have a greater effect as well as being models for their children, by for example buying boy toys for boys and girl toys for girls, so parents could be seen as actively shaping their children's behaviour from an early age. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of the anxiety it creates the child is driven to resolve this by subsequent identification with the same sex parent. The process of identification means that the child will use the same sex parent as a role model, thereby adopting similar behaviours and characteristics, which are also influenced by cultural norms of masculinity and femininity. This will help the child then be able to get a girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband like his/her same sex parent, if he/she is more like him/her. The theories all take different perspectives, and help us to understand the development of gender roles by different view points, however it could be that it is a amalgamation of all the theories that really would help understand gender development, which could also be a result of the physiological make up of the brain as well as environmental factors associated with gender development. ...read more.

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