Lecture 12 – December 2
Gender Role Development
EXAM Chapters (12 13 14 15)
How important is gender to development? It's very important!
Ramifications of gender-labelling are extremely important.
We dress babies appropriate to their gender, we buy sex-appropriate toys.
Why do we react so differently to the diff sexes? Where do these differences come from?
Well sex differences and our different responses to the sexes is due to biological
We have expectations for how males and females should behave but this varies according
to culture and context.
Categorizing Males & Females
Sex-role standards or stereotypes
Sex-role standard is a value, motive or class of behaviour that is considered more
appropriate for members of one gender than the other
We expect girls to be more kind, co-operative, sensitive and nurturing
These are the traits that girls will need later in life when they assume their roles as
Our society expects men to adopt a more instrumental role. Man's job is to provide for
the family and protect the family from farm. So they're expected to be assertive, dominant, and
competitive. These traits will enable them to make a living.
How general are these sex-role standards?
A number of cultures share the same view
Study – Gender Typing in Non-Industrialized Societies
Number of societies in which there were differential pressure to adapt attributes. 82 of
these societies put pressure on girls to adopt such attributes such as nurturing. 35 societies want
girls to have obediance. (See Chart)
This is not to say that these attributes are not encouraged in both genders. All attributes
are encouraged in both boys and girls however, for there's more pressure for certain genders to
adopt a certain attribute.
One goal is to acquire attributes that will allow the person to become a functional being
in the future.
Facts & fictions about sex differences
Are there differences in psychological functioning between boys and girls?
Sex differences that appear to be real
4 differences in psychological processes in both boys and girls 1) Verbal ability: Girls have better verbal abilities than boys. Girls acquire language earlier and
develop skills pretty early. This is seen throughout childhood and adolexcence.
2) Visual/Spatial Ability:
Boys outperform girls in this. Ability to understand spatial relationships and pictures
Mental Rotation Task – Study
Which of the 4 pictures match the target picture?
Boys always outperform the girls; they're much quicker in answering?
Water Level Task
How will the water appear in the jug if it is tilted. Boys were generally more accurate in
this task than girls.
3) Mathematical ability
Beginning in adolescence, boys show small but consistent advantage in arithmetic
They usually do better in geometry (which relies on spatial abilities)
Could be due to social factors
Males may receive for reinforcement and lot more encouragement for performing well.
Boys are physically and more verbally agressive than girls. Girls do display
aggression/hostility but they do it in a different way (gossiping, ignoring)
Boys are more likely to engage in social activites; more likely to be violent in the future,
Other differences, recently found
Boys are more active than girls
Fear, timidity, and risk taking
Girls are more timid than boys
boys are more likely to get mental, emotional disorders, and develop reading disabilities
Girls are more emotionally expressive.
2 yr old girls use more emotion related words than 2 yr old boys
Girls rate themselves as being more consistently nurturing(empathetic) than boys but
when you look at behaviour, girls do not display anymore empathetic behaviour than boys.
Girls appear to be more compliant than boys.
Girls rely more on their verbal ability Cultural myths
Even though these differences exist, they`re very minimal.
How much of the variance do these differences account for.
Myths: Girls are better at simple tasks than boys. Where do these myths come fromÉ If
there`s no evidence for them, why do we believe them
These myths may be due to sex-role stereotypes.
We use schemata to interpret ambiguous information. If we know the gender of the
person, we can try to understand and interpret the behaviour of someone.
Study about baby and Jack-in the box
When students are told it`s a boy, they interpret the baby`s reaction as being anger
whereas when they were told it was a girl, they interpreted it as fear.
Developmental trends in sex typing
Development of Gender Identity or Concept
Discrimination of male vs. Female
this is 1 step of developing the gender concept which is differentiating between boys and
evidence that infants can identify male infants from girl infants
By 1 year, infants can discriminate males vs. Females
They later begin to show us that they understand gender by using words like mommy and
daddy. They also begin to understand boy vs. Girl. They understand whether they are a boy or
girl. By 2 yrs, they can label themselves as either a boy or girl.
However, they do not understanding that genders don`t change. They may believe that
males can become mommies or females can become daddies.
So they don`t understand gender constancy just yet
Development of gender constancy
They first acquire gender constancies for themselves
Then they acquire gender constancies for their friends