Sex and gender
Sex generally refers to the physical characteristics and differences between men and women,
the term sex roles is used to describe the behaviors that men and women may engage in that are directly
related to their biological differences and the process of reproduction.
o An example of a sex role for females is breastfeeding - a behavior that only women can engage in
The term sexual identity is used to describe the degree of awareness and recognition of sex and sex roles an
individual may have.
o Male sexual identity typically includes his awareness that he has the potential to impregnate women
and knows the necessary behaviors.
o Female sexual identity includes the woman’s awareness of her reproductive potential and her
knowledge about behaviors that lead to pregnancy
gender refers to the behaviors that a culture deems appropriate for men and women
Gender role refers to the degree to which a person adopts the gender-specific behaviors ascribed by his or her
o For example, traditional gender roles suggest that males are aggressive and unemotional (with the
exception of anger)
o Traditional gender roles for females suggest that women are nurturant, caring, and emotional and
that they should stay at home and take care of the children.
Gender identity refers to the degree to which a person has awareness or recognition that he or she adopts a
particular gender role.
And gender stereotypes refer to the psychological or behavioral characteristics typically associated with men
gender differences across cultures
one of Hofstede’s dimensions is masculinity - femininity
cultures high on masculinity tended to have moralistic attitudes about sex, had double standards about sex
(i.e., women should be virgins at marriage but not men), and had norms encouraging passive roles of women.
Cultures low on masculinity tend to have matterof- fact attitudes about sex, a single standards concerning sex
for men and women, and norms that encouraged an active role for women in society.
Masculine and feminine cultures also differed in their attitudes about religion.
Masculine cultures tend to be more traditional, focusing on religion, and focused on god or gods. Feminine cultures tend to be less traditional, emphasize the importance of religion in life less, and focus on
It is common folklore that males are better at mathematical and spatial reasoning tasks, whereas females are
better at verbal comprehension tasks
there is some degree of support for these notions, although the difference between males and females seems to
have narrowed in recent years.
Maccoby et al concluded that males do better on spatial reasoning tasks
Berry argued that that such differences do not appear to exist among males and females of the Inuit culture in
Canada this difference didn’t exist bc spatial abilities are adaptive for both Inuit males and females
Berry et al suggested that male superiority on spatial abilities ended to be found in cultures that were tight
(that is, relatively homogeneous), sedentary, and agriculturally based
female superiority was found in cultures that were loose, nomadic, and based on hunting and gathering.-> in
these latter cultures, the roles ascribed to males and females are relatively flexible, with more members
performing a variety of tasks related to the survival of the group
Conformity and Obedience
One common stereotype is that females are more conforming and obedient than males.
the degree to which this difference occurs varies from culture to culture.
Cultures that were tighter appeared to foster a greater gender difference on conformity, with females more
conformist than males.
cultures that were looser fostered less gender difference on conformity, and in some of these cultures, males
were found to be more conforming than females.
a common gender stereotype is that males are more aggressive than females.
there is support for this stereotype in all cultures for which documentation exists
Increased testosterone levels have been associated with dominance hierarchies in some nonhuman
primates, but the human analog is less clear
On the basis of the evidence available, it appears that hormones may contribute to some degree to
but culture and the environment can certainly act to encourage or discourage its emergence The magnitude of the sex difference in physical aggression was related to levels of gender empowerment and
individualism in each of the countries; cultures that were more individualistic and that empowered
women more had less female victimization and more male victimization.
Archer argued that these findings are best explained by social role theory which states that sex differences in
social behavior result from the division of labor between men and women with regard to homemaker or
worker outside the home.
These roles, it is argued, produce expectancies that lead to different patterns of behavior in men and women
Neither biology nor sex differences in teaching aggressive acts can account for gender differences in
aggression observed across cultures.
Some researchers suggest that male aggression may be a compensatory mechanism to offset the conflict
produced by a young male’s identification with a female care provider and his initiation into adulthood as a
male. In this model, aggressiveness is viewed as “gender marking” behavior
studies have found that women universally reported higher scores on Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Warmth,
and Openness to Feelings, while men scored higher on Assertiveness and Openness to Ideas
Sex and sexuality
There are major cultural differences in the degree of importance placed on values concerning chastity,
especially for women.
Many traditional cultures view homosexuality as a curse or worse
These kinds of attitudes exist in many quarters of very egalitarian cultures like the U.S. as well.
In some cultures, open homosexuals may be beaten, publicly humiliated and shamed, and even persecuted by
Culture affects the practice of circumcision for males and female genital mutilation (FGM) for females.
The practice of FGM is associated with many complex issues.
On the one hand, there appears to be no apparent health benefit to the practice, and in fact studies have
demonstrated many health problems associated with it, including death, infertility, or urinary tract infection.
As a result, many people in many affluent and more egalitarian cultures view the practice as barbaric and
On the other hand, the practice is tied with honor and virtue and for many women in many cultures, not
having FGM would prevent a woman from finding a husband or to live life as a social outcast.
Research on sexual jealousy has demonstrated interesting gender differences in jealousy that appear to be universal (Buss)
This research has focused on two types of infidelity, sexual and emotional.
Sexual infidelity occurs when a partner has sex or engages in sex-related behaviors with others. Emotional
infidelity refers to the formation of an emotional bond with other people.
While both types of infidelity bring about feelings of jealousy in both men and women, males are relatively
more jealous about sexual infidelity, while females are relatively more jealous of emotional infidelity.
These findings have been explained by suggesting that women sleeping with others threaten a man’s ability to
create offspring or places him in the position of caring for someone else’s offspring; men falling in love with
otherwomen threaten a woman’s family and her offspring because the man may not be around to care for or
provide for his offspring.
Division of labor
the sex differences between men and women include the fact that men are gene