Describe how the learning approach can be used to explain gender development
The learning approach suggests that gender is a result of Nurture i.e. it is learned from the environment and is not fixed at birth.
One way in which we learn behaviour is through operant conditioning. A young child will behave in various different ways, some behaviour will be noticed by adults and reinforced if they think that is desirable and some behaviours will be punished if they feel that it is undesirable. As the child grows up other role models will influence and reinforce desirable gender behaviour and punish undesirable behaviour.
An example of this can be seen through a young child that is dressing up. A young girl who dresses up as a fairy will be praised and told that she looks pretty, whereas if a boy was who was dressed up as a fairy he would be laughed at (punishment). Over time consistent reinforcement and punishment shapes the behaviour of the child so that the girl continues to dress up as a fairy, but the boy does not.