• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Theories of Sex and Gender

Extracts from this document...


Theories of Sex and Gender Sex and gender are two very separate factors in the debate of how gender acquisition occurs. Sex is a biological fact determined by the chromosomes inherited from parents. Gender however, refers to the behaviour, beliefs, attitude and sense of identity that society perceives as being appropriate for either a male or a female, and therefore gender is regarded as a social fact. MOGHADDAM (1998, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002). There are four main theories in the gender acquisition debate, Evolutionary Psychology, Psychoanalytical Theory, Social Learning Theory and Cognitive-development Theory. This paper aims to describe and evaluate Social Learning Theory and Cognitive-development Theory. Social Learning theorists believe the development of gender occurs as a result of a child's social experience and think much of this learning can be explained by conditioning and observational learning. Sex-role and gender behaviours are learned in the same way as any other behaviour. In terms of conditioning, parents socialise their children, preparing them for adult gender roles by providing them with gender-appropriate toys. In many societies girls are given dolls and cooking equipment in preparation for the maternal and domestic aspects of their adult gender role. BANDURA & WALTERS (1963, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002) Social Learning theorists also think that children learn gender roles from same sex role models such as parents, peers, teachers and media figures who provide children with opportunities to observe and imitate behaviours, this is known as observational learning. ...read more.


However this is not always the case, as a review of 80 studies of same gender imitation found that this only occurred in 18 of the studies. BARKLEY et al (1977, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002) Gender stereotypes shown in the media have a strong influence on children who are acquiring their gender identity. Evidence on the effects of stereotypes is shown in a study by WILLIAMS (1985, as cited in CARDWELL et al, 2000). Williams compared gender role attitudes of children in three Canadian towns. Notel had no TV channels, Unitel had one TV channel and Multitel had 4 TV channels. After two years, Notel had acquired 1 TV channel, Unitel now had 2 TV channels and Multitel still had 4 channels. Behaviour was observed over the two year period and one of the main findings was that Notel's children's view on gender roles changed to become very traditional and gender stereotyped with the advent of TV. LEARY et al, (1982, as cited in CARDWELL et al, 2000) found that children who watched television frequently were more likely to have stereotypical views of gender and more likely to conform to gender role attitudes. However these sets of data are correlational and therefore it cannot be shown whether television programmes make children more stereotyped or that gender stereotyped children watch more television. However, Duck (1990, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002) ...read more.


Kohlberg was strongly influenced by PIAGETS' "Stages of Cognitive Development" and he argued that gender identities and roles are only possible when children have reached the necessary stage in their cognitive development; when they have developed the mental structures required to understand gender and its' constancy. Once fully aware of the concept of gender, children relate to relevant information i.e. particular clothes, hairstyles and gender appropriate behaviours. At this stage, models become important and children select gender appropriate behaviours from the range of available models, they imitate models they themselves consider appropriate. Children therefore socialise themselves. FREY & RUBLE, (1992, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002). According to Kohlberg there should be a close relationship between cognitions about gender and gender typed attitudes and behaviour. HUSTON, (1985, as cited in HEFC class notes, 2004), argued that this was exaggerated as the relationship was weak especially in girls. A number of studies have indicated a link between the various stages and gender typed behaviour. WEINRAUB et al, (1984, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002), studied 2-3 year olds and found that those with the most developed gender identity were more likely to play with gender typed toys. Further to this, a study of gender constancy looked at the response of 4-6 year olds to TV adverts in which toys were presented as suitable for either boys or girls. Children with a high understanding of gender constancy were more likely to pick up these gender messages. RUBLE et al, (1981, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Lois Gould X: A Fabulous Childs Story brings up the factor of raising a ...

    Although the children are at first confused and to curious as to if X is either a boy or girl, that later accept and embrace the factor that X is just X and does not need to be classified and defined.

  2. Discuss the change from the "one sex" model to the "two sex" model and ...

    European women were all seen to be governed by natural forces to a greater degree than rational civilised bourgeois man and therefore denied the liberty, equality and freedom that all of mankind was once promised by liberal Philosophers (equal in nature therefore equal in society was no more).

  1. Compare and Contrast the Biological and Social Learning Theories of Gender Development

    However sometimes this can go wrong and people can have abnormal combinations of chromosomes. This can lead to three typical conditions which are, hermaphroditism, This is where a persons chromosomes are both male and female. Klinefelters syndrome, where there is an extra 'X' chromosome, and finally Turners syndrome where a person has 45 chromosomes instead of the normal 46.

  2. The cannabis debate

    use of cannabis, then why not legalise it and write a health warning with it as with cigarettes and let people make their own choice, particularly when scientists themselves are no wiser. The government should be able to govern the country, not our own bodies.

  1. "Are gender roles changing or being reinforced"?

    Two pictures of engravings showing cloth making in the home during the eighteenth century are shown below. The work of men and women during the industrial revolution. From the beginning of the eighteenth century onwards, the Industrial Revolution began to change the way in which many people worked.

  2. sex and gender

    Pink is normally associated with girls, in comparison to blue for boys. Birthday and Christmas presents also show this. It is widely seen as socially acceptable for boys to play with cars, action figures, and guns, whereas for girls, it is socially recognised that they should play with Barbie's, dolls and makeup.

  1. To try and find out why girls are outperforming boys in GCSEexaminations?

    Question two: 'Do you think students should have free periods?' From this question I thought I would get a result which showed an equal number of boys and girls saying yes and no, but this wasn't the case as you can see in the graph below; DO YOU THINK STUDENTS SHOULD HAVE FREE PERIODS?

  2. Gender Studies

    such eventualities.18 Personality-Changing economic conditions may have driven women into the labor market, but after being in the workforce for a few decades they realize that paid employment along with satisfying their basic financial needs, also fulfills their individual needs of independence, provides them with a greater control of environment,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work