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Psychology 2035A/B Lecture Notes - X Chromosome, Y Chromosome, Prenatal Development

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Doug Hazlewood

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SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization
October 25, 2010
Are you male/female?
Part 1: Reproductive Biology
Prenatal sexual Differentiation
- The role of becoming male/female began at conception
- Mother’s egg (X sex chromosome)
- Father’s sperm (X or Y sex chromosome)
oIf X fertilized XX you are female
oIf Y fertilized XY you are male
A) The genetic factor is the first step towards becoming a male or a female
- You won’t possess any reproductive organs in the first few weeks after conception
B) The Gonadal factor ( development of reproductive organs: testes or ovaries)
a. Depends on whether the Y chromosome is present of absent
i. If present,
a. Stimulates the development of testes
b. Inhibits the development of ovaries
- PROBLEMS : “True Hermaphrodites”
b. A genetic female (XX); with a tiny piece of a Y chromosome that attached to an X
chromosome (XXy)
i. The Y chromosome is big enough to stimulate the development of testes,
but not big enough to inhibit the development of ovaries (therefore, the
person possesses both)
- Even if you do have the right chromosomes, you still don’t have a penis/clit
C) The Hormonal Factor (development of sex organs: penic or clitoris and vagina)
Testes produce androgens (also called the male sex hormones even though
the females also have some)
When androgens are present, a penis develops called the Adam Principle
When androgens are absent, a clitoris and vagina develop called the Eve
oThe Andrenogenital syndrome
Genetic females with unusually active adrenal glands in the prenatal
development (produce androgens)

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SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization
October 25, 2010
The result is that the fetus develops sex organs that appear to be “male” (clit
is enlarged, and vagina is fused); usually some confusion about the baby’s
sex when it’s born
oAndrogen-insensitivity syndrome:
Genetic male with normal testes that produce normal levels of androgens
BUT the body is insensitive to androgens; body doesn’t respond to them- like
they are not present
So the baby is born with sex organs that have a female appearance; thus it
also causes confusion about the baby’s sex
- if everything goes as planned, you are now a biological male/female (end of prenatal
sexual differentiation)
- BUT you still can’t reproduce (for about a decade)
D) The Puberty Factor (involves hormones)
oFor girls age 10-12 and boys 12-14
oDuring this time we see 2 changes:
We see the development of secondary sex characteristics
Boys and girls: pubic hair, growth spurt
In girls: development of breasts
In boys: facial hair ,deeper voice, larger penis
Gonads (reproductive organs) mature:
Menstruation in girls (mature eggs are released from ovaries)
The first ejaculation in boys (production of mature sperm from the
- The road to becoming a male of female does not end with biological maturation of the
oAlso involves a psychological development
Part 2: Our 2 basic identities
1. Sexual Identity (given to you by biology)
2. Gender identity; reflects your perception of yourself as a male or female. Beliefs about
what it means to be a male or female

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SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization
October 25, 2010
o“gender roles”- society’s expectations about how males and females should behave
oGiven to you by SOCIETY (not biology like your sexual identity); nearly every society
that’s been studies has expectations about how males/females should behave
oNearly every society expects males and females to be different
Not every society has the same expectations but they all have a unique set of
OUR society is no exception
- Consider “gender stereotypes” common in our society
oWhat are the characteristics of the avg man and woman in our society ?
The things that they mention are rarely the same
Women are describes by The Communal Dimension (also called the
expressive, socially-oriented, feminine dimension)
Specific attributes are caring, nurturant, affectionate, helpful
Men are describes as The Agentic Dimension (also called the instrumental,
the task-oriented, masculine)
Aggressive, dominant, independent, self-reliant
These dimensions share universal characteristics
- To illustrate in a general way how we are influenced by gender stereotypes
- STORY: father and son involved in a car accident. Both seriously injured and rushed to
different hospitals. Asa the son is prepared for surgery, the surgeon says that he can’t
operate b/c he’s HIS son. It’s impossible for him to be his father b/c the father is at a
different hospital.
oSolution: automatic tendency to think that the surgeon is a male BUT the surgeon
was actually his MOTHER
- 2 questions:
oAre these gender stereotypes accurate?
Research suggest that these stereotypes DO contain a kernel of truth
oWhere do these differences come from? Why are women more communal on avg
and men more agentic?
Possible that they stem from biological factors (p311-313)
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