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Chapter 11

Human Adjustment: Chapter 11 textbook

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Western University
Psychology 2035A/B
Michelle Everest

Chapter 11: Gender and Behavior Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Related Concepts Gender: The state of being male or female Gender identity: an individual’s perception of himself or herself as male or female Gender stereotype: Widely held and often inaccurate beliefs about males’ and females’ abilities, personality traits, and social behavior • Stereotyped attributes for males generally reflect the quality of instrumentality, an orientation toward action and accomplishment • Stereotypes for females reflect the quality of expressiveness, an orientation toward emotion and relationships Gender differences: actual disparities in behavior between males and females, based on research observations Gender roles: Culturally defined expectations about appropriate behavior for males and females Gender-role identity: A person’s identification with the traits regarded as masculine or feminine (one’s sense of being masculine or feminine) Sexual orientation: A person’s preference for sexual partners of the other gender (heterosexual), the same gender (homosexual), or both genders (bisexual) • Many stereotypes have developed around behavioral differences between the genders, although the distinctions between the male and female stereotypes are less rigid than they used to be. Gender stereotypes may vary depending on ethnicity, and they typically favor males. Gender Similarities and Differences Meta-analysis: combines the statistical results of many studies of the same question, yielding an estimate of the size and consistency of a variable’s effects • This approach allows a researcher to assess the overall trends across all the previous studies of how gender is related to say, math abilities or conformity Gender similarities hypothesis: Hyde (2005, 2007) • Notes that men and women are similar on most psychological variables and that most of the time when researchers report a difference, it is quite small • that overinflated claims of gender differences have costs associated with them for the workplace and relationship Cognitive Abilities • gender differences have not been found in overall intelligence • Verbal Abilities o Includes a number of distinct skills, such as vocabulary, reading, writing, spelling, and grammar abilities o Girls and women generally have the edge in the verbal area o Girls usually start speaking a little earlier, have larger vocabularies and better reading scores in grade school, and are more verbally fluent o Boys e three to four times more likely to be stutterers and five to ten times more likely than girls to be dyslexic o these differences are small, the overlap between males and females in verbal abilities is much greater than the gap between them • Mathematical Abilities o show small gender differences favoring males o research shows no such differences in the elementary school years o in mathematical problem solving, boys start to slightly outperform girls when they reach high school o males also outperform females at the high end if the mathematical ability distribution o gender differences in mathematical ability are small but favor males • Spatial Abilities o include perceiving and mentally manipulating shapes and figures o Males typically outperform females in most spatial abilities, and gender differences favoring males are consistently found in the ability to perform mental rotations of a figure in three dimensions—a skill important in occupations such as engineering, chemistry, and the building trades o gender gap in the ability to handle mental rotations is relatively large  this difference is seen in infants as young as 5 months old o experience and training can improve mental rotation in both girls and boys  playing action video games has been shown to improve mental rotation skills for both genders Personality Traits and Social Behavior • Self-esteem o Females typically score lower than males on tests of self-esteem, the difference in scores is generally small o For example, a meta-analysis of several hundred studies that included respondents from 7 to 60 years of age found only a small difference in self- esteem that favored males (Kling et al., 1999) o A second meta-analysis also reported only a small overall gender difference favoring males (Major et al., 1999) o Other research consistently reports self-esteem differences between white men and women, but findings are mixed for other ethnic groups (Major et al., 1999; Twenge & Crocker, 2002) o I recent meta-analysis including 115 studies examined gender differences in specific self-esteem domains  researchers found gender differences favoring males with regard to self- esteem domains of physical appearance, athleticism, and self- satisfaction, but differences in behavioral conduct and morality/ethics favored females  There were no gender differences for domains such as academics and social acceptance • Aggression o involves behavior that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally o gender differences vary depending on the form aggression takes o males consistently engage in more physical aggression than females  this difference is evident even in young children o verbal aggression (insults, threats of harm), the findings are inconsistent o relational aggression, such as giving someone the “silent treatment” to get one’s way, talking behind another’s back, or trying to get others to dislike someone, females are rated higher  Crick, Casas, & Nelson, 2002: believe that the higher rates of relational aggression among girls and women result from the importance that females attach to close relationships o (Oesterman et al., 1998) : in a study of 8-, 11-, and 15-year-olds from Finland, Israel, Italy, and Poland, researchers looked at gender differences in three types of aggression: physical, verbal, and indirect (Oesterman et al., 1998)  boys were equally likely to use physical and verbal aggression and less likely to use indirect aggression  girls most often used indirect aggression, followed by verbal aggression, then physical aggression  women are more likely than men to aggress indirectly o men commit a grossly disproportionate share of violent crimes  7% of all federal inmates are women and, based on self-reports of victims, women make up 14% of violent offenders  male youth are an estimated 10 times more likely to commit murder that females  Lifetime chances of going to prison are much higher for men (11.3%) than for women (1.8%) • Sexual Attitudes and Behavior o men to have more permissive attitudes than women about casual, premarital, and extramarital sex o most gender differences are relatively small o men are more sexually active, watch porn and masturbate more than females o Yost and Zurbriggen (2006) found that for men and women, the endorsement of casual sex was associated with earlier sexual experiences, a greater number of sexual partners, and more frequent sexual activity  for men, his endorsement was also associated with acceptance of rape myths and conservative attitudes toward women  for women it was associated with sexual fantasies of dominance and lower levels of sexual conservatism o Letitia Anne Peplau (2003): sported four key differences that hold for both gays and straights  men have more interest in sex than women  the connection between sex and intimacy is more important for women than for men  aggression is more often linked to sexuality for men than for women  women’s sexuality y is more easily shaped by cultural and situational factors • Emotional Expression o women express more emotion than men o Women are better at recognizing emotions in others • Communication o Men talk more than women o men also tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men Psychological Disorders • antisocial behavior, alcoholism, and other drug-related disorders are far more prevalent among men than among women • women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders • females have a higher rate of mood disorders than males • women attempt suicide more often than men, but men complete suicides more • females are more likely to engage in deliberate self-harm than males • females are more likely than males to develop PTSD Putting Gender Differences into Perspective • the similarities between women and men greatly outweigh the differences • The gender differences that do exist are quite small • they are group differences that tell us little about individuals • some people still follow to the belief that psychological differences between the genders are substantial • social role theory and social constructionism provide two explanations r this phenomenon o social role theory asserts that minor gender differences are exaggerated by the different social roles that males and females occupy  EXAMPLE: women are assigned the role of caregiver, they learn to behave in nurturing ways, and people come to associate such role-related le roles they play. In other words, people come to see nurturing as a female trait rather than a characteristic that anyone in a nurturing role would demonstrate. This is one way that gender stereotypes develop and persist. o social constructionism asserts that individuals construct their own reality based on societal expectations, conditioning, and self-socialization  people’s specific beliefs about gender (as well as their tendency to look for gender differences) are rooted in the “gendered” messages and conditioning that permeate socialization experiences Biological Origins of Gender Differences Evolutionary Explanations • Evolutionary psychologists suggest that gender differences in behavior reflect different natural selection pressures operating on the genders over the course of human history o Lateral selection favors behaviors that maximize the chances of passing on genes to the next generation • Gender differences that are consistent across cultures • gender differences in cognitive abilities, aggression, and sexual behavior are found in many culture o aggression was favored in males who need it to hunt o nurturing behavior was favored in females who needed to raise children o males supposedly are more sexually active and permissive because they invest less than males in the process of procreation and can maximize their reproductive success by seeking many sexual partners o the gender gap in aggression is also explained in terms of reproductive fitness because females are more selective about mating than males, there is also more competition for males o gender differences in spatial abilities reflect the division of labor in ancestral hunting-and gathering societies in which males typically handled the hunting and females the gathering Brain Organization • the human brain is divided into two halves o cerebral hemispheres are the right and left halves of the cerebrum, which is the convoluted outer layer of the brain  largest and most complicated part of the human brain, is responsible for most complex mental activities  left side = verbal and math, right side = visual-spatial and nonverbal  males exhibit more cerebral specialization than females • they rely on verbal and spatial processing o corpus callosum, the band of fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the brain  females tend to have larger corpus callosum • better at inter-hemispheric transfer of information • important limitations in this line of reasoning o studies have not consistently found that males have more specialized brain organization than females o because a significant amount of brain development occurs over the first five to ten years after birth, during which time males and females are socialized differently, it is possible that different life experiences may accumulate to produce slight differences in brain organization  biological factors that supposedly cause gender differences in cognitive functioning may actually reflect the influence of environmental factors o gender accounts for only a small amount of the change in lateralization; it’s more dependent on the type of task o important to remember that male and female brains are more similar then different o Hormonal Influences • hormones are chemical substances released into the bloodstream by the endocrine glands • Prenatal Gender Differentiation o Hormones can have powerful influences on the brain before birth o after 8-12 weeks, male and female gonads (sex glands) begin to produce different hormonal secretions o high level of androgens male hormones such as testosterone in males and the low level of androgens in females lead to the differentiation of male and female genital organs • Collaer & Hines, 1995 study: scientists have studied children born to mothers given an androgen-like drug to prevent miscarriage, two trends have been noted in this research: o girls exposed prenatally to abnormally high levels of androgens exhibit more male-typical behavior than other girls do  congenital adrenal hyperplasia elevated levels of androgens) tend to show increased interest in “male” toys, regardless of parental encouragement to play with “female” toys o boys exposed prenatally to abnormally low levels of androgens exhibit ore female-typical behavior than other boys • postnatally the hormone testosterone plays an important role in sexual desire for both men and women o when testosterone is reduced or eliminated, both men and women show decreases in sexual drive o high levels of testosterone increases sexual activity o testosterone = higher level of aggression Environmental Origins of Gender Differences Socialization • socialization is the acquisition of the norms and roles expected of people in a particular society o members learn to behave in a way that is appropriate • gender roles: cultural expectations about what is appropriate behavior for each gender • Margaret Mead(1950) Gender Roles across cultures: o The Mundugumor Tribe -> followed masculine role expectations o The Arapesh -> both genders followed a more feminine role o The Tchambuli -> male and female roles were reversed based on our gender roles o This shows that gender roles are not biological but acquired through socialization • Eagly’s social role theory suggests that gender differences often occur (and seem bigger than they actually are) because males and females are guided by different role expectations Process in Gender- Role Socialization • Reinforcement and Punishment o parents, teachers, peers, and others often reinforce “gender-appropriate” behavior  For example, a young boy who has hurt himself may be told that “big boys don’t cry.” If he stops crying, he may get a pat on the back or a warm smile—both powerful reinforces. o Parents are more likely to punish children for gender inappropriate behavior then reward child for gender appropriate behavior • Observational Learning o occurs when a child’s behavior is influenced by observing others also called models  parents serve as models for children, as do siblings, teachers, relatives, and others who are important in children’s lives  Models are not limited to real people; television, movie, and cartoon characters can also be models o According to the social cognitive theory -> young children are more likely to imitate people who are nurturing, powerful, and similar to them (Bussev & 3andura, 1984, 1999,2004). o Children imitate both genders but more same gender o same-gender peers have more influence than parents • Self-socialization o Children play active roles in this process beginning at a young age o Children learn that gender is an important social category o Around 2-3 years old children begin to identify as male or female o Gender schemas are cognitive structures that guide the processing of gender- relevant information  Gender schemas work like lenses that cause people to view and organize the world in terms of gender o Children learn behaviors appropriate to their gender roles very early in life. According to social learning theory, girls tend to do the sorts of things their mothers do and boys copy their dads Source of Gender-Role Socialization • Parents o Parents encourage play activities that are “gender-appropriate” and encourage boys and girls to play with different toys o Parents also emphasize gender in the assignment of household chores along traditional gender lines • Peers o Peers form an important network for learning about gender-appropriate and gender-inappropriate behavior o Between ages 4 and 6, children tend to separate into same-gender groups o Play takes different forms for
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