Five theories for gender differences in behaviour:
1. Psychoanalytic theory- Freud proposed identification- the notion that children
acquire gender identity by identifying with and imitating their same-sex parents.
Noted developing curiosity of own sexual anatomy around age 5.
2. Cognitive social learning theory- that kids acquire gender identification both
They see how parents treat girls and boys differently from birth and learn from it.
3. Gender-Schema theory- an info processing approach that even kids (2.5yrs)
develop own naïve theories about gender differences. Based on selective attention
and memory for own sex relevant info and motivation to be like others of same sex.
When boys and girls are shown male/female tv characters, both genders pay
attention to their own gender characters when they have gender constancy, when
low gender constancy they both look at the female characters more.
4. Cognitive Development theory (Kohlberg)- that children categorize themselves as
male/female based on physical and behavioural clues, and then behave in the
appropriate way. (age 7) ‡šƒ’Ž‡•‘ˆ…Ž—‡•ƒ”‡Šƒ‹”•–›Ž‡•’Žƒ›‹Z‰™‹–Š–”—…•äòƒ
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values is what self-esteem is based on.
Believed in 3 phases: First (2-3yrs) acquire basic gender identity (male or female),
second (4-5yrs) acquire concept of gender stability: notion that gender does not
change; males remain male, females remain female. (boy will not grow up to be a
mom, girl will not grow up to be spiderman) Third (6-7yrs) acquire gender
constancy: The awareness that superficial alterations in appearance or activity do
not alter gender. Working class kids reach milestones 1 year later than middle class.
5. Evolutionary approaches- stress principles of natural selection and adaptation.
Males developed aggressive/competitive skills for mating, and females developed
attracting/keeping skills. (also about hormones, and brain lateralization)
Traditionally, gender=cognitive and social differences, sex= biological and
Gender typing- The process by which children acquire the values, motives, and
behaviours considered appropriate for their gender in their particular culture.
Gender-based beliefs- Ideas and expectation about what is appropriate behaviour
for males and females. Derived largely from:
Gender stereotypes- Beliefs that members of a culture hold about how females and
males ought to behave, that is, what behaviours are acceptable and appropriate for
www.notesolution.com Gender roles- Composites of the behaviours actually exhibited by a typical male or
female in a given culture; the reflection of a gender stereotype in every day life.
(these are essentially reflections of the gender stereotypes)
Gender identity- The perception of oneself as either masculine or feminine.
Gender-role preferences- Desires to possess certain gender-typical characteristics.
(choices of toys and play partners)
Sexual preferences- The preference for same or opposite sex romantic partners.
In North America male role is seen as charged with controlling/manipulating the
environment. Expected to be independent, assertive, dominant, and competitive in
social and sexual relations. Female role is seen as emotionally supporting the family.
Expected to be passive, loving, sensitive, and supportive in social and family
relationships. (expression of warmth in personal relations, display of anxiety under
pressure, and suppression of overt aggression and sexuality is more appropriate for
women then men) Only changes seen so far is that males have become less likely to
endorse toughness/aggression, but differences at work still exist. Kids/adults still
think mechanics/doctors=male, nurses/librarians=female. (variations exist in more
tradition bound cultures like middle eastern nations and Taiwan, they are more
rigid with these roles)
Even in North America, differences based on ethnicity: blacks more likely to
socialize kids without gender role distinctions, so kids less likely to hold stereotypic
views about women. (encourage independence early on for both genders, females to
be more aggressive/assertive, and males to be more emotional/nurturing) Opposite
Between age 3-6yrs, kids especially rigid in gender stereotyping, become more
flexible with age. Uni-educated females more likely to view feminine role involving
independence/desire for achievement. Their kids have less stereotyped views too,
but educated men still stereotype regardless. Overall men characteristic=
aggression, women= interpersonal sensitivity.
Some gender differences are real:
physical-girls more physically/neurologically advanced at birth. (walk/attain
puberty earlier) boy have larger lungs/heart/muscles and less sensitive to pain at
birth. Boys get stronger with age but boys more likely to be miscarried and higher
rate of infant mortality. So females are better in terms of physiological vulnerability.
Cognitive- infancy to early school years, females= superior at verbal abilities. At age
10+ boys= greater visual-spatial ability (not true in poor families though), 12+
boys= greater at math (mostly geometry though, no algebra differences).
Social- boys from infancy are aggressive. Girls=indirect aggression (excluding others
from social interaction) From age 2 girls more likely to comply parents demands,
girls, and also less likely then girls to comply to other preschool boys.
Atypical development- boys more likely to have genetic defects, disabilities etc.
(Autism 4X more likely in boys)
Differences only found sometimes: Activity level- sometimes boys more active.
Dependence- older girls rate themselves as more dependent. Fear- older girls more
fearful. Exploratory activity- boys more than girls in early studies. Stress
vulnerability- males more vulnerable. Orientation to social stimuli- infant girls more
Ž‹‡Ž›–‘‘”‹‡Z–”‡…‘‰Z‹Œ‡‘–Š‡”ï•ˆƒ…‡äSociability- boys=girl in being social, but
females tend to do more of the actual caring for children, relatives, and friends.
Conformity- no difference. Learning style- no difference. Achievement- in neutral
conditions females more motivated, under competitive conditions boys more
motivated. Self esteem- no difference but females view selves as more competent in
social skills, boys view selves as stronger/more powerful. Hostility- equal in verbal
aggression but girls tend to gossip/exclude others, boys do direct assault.
Even at age 1 g