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Chapter 13

Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Sexual Differentiation, Survey Data Collection, Prenatal Development

Course Code
Doug Hazlewood

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Chapter 13 Notes: Development and Expression of Sexuality
- Sex research has some unique problems: rely mostly on interviews and questionnaires b/c direct
observation is somewhat impossible, and people who are willing to volunteer information tend
to be more liberal and sexually experienced than the general population, and some shade the
truth b/c of embarrassment and wishful thinking so getting a representative sample is hard;
baised towards white middle-classes volunteers
Becoming a Sexual Person
Key Aspects of Sexual Identity
- Sexual Identity: the complex of personal qualities, self-perceptions, attitutudes, values, and
preferences that guide one’s sexual behaviour; your sense of yourself as a sexual person. 4 key
1. Sexual Orientation: individual preference of gender with whom to have an emotional/sexual
relationship- include hetero, homo, and bisexuals (also includes LGBT-lesbian, gay
bisexual, transgendered community; grouped together b/c they often have intersecring
interests). Transgenedered people are those whose appearance and/or behaviours do not
conform to traditional gender roles
2. Body Image: how you see yourself physically- a positive body image is correlated with
greater sexual activity, higher sexual satisfaction, and fewer sexual problems.
3. Sexual Values and Ethics: people in different cultures are taught that certain expressions of
sexuality are right and wrong. Nature of these constraints/messages varies depending on
gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status
4. Erotic Preferences: within the limits of 1 and 3 people differ in what they enjoy
Physiological Influences: their influence on sexual ANATOMY is much greater than their influence on
Hormones and Sexual Differentiation
- sexual differentiation: hormones that play a role in gender distinction in prenatal development
- during the 3rd month of prenatal development, hormone secretion begins in the gonads (the sex
glands). In males, the testes produce androgens (most important is testorsterone) and in females
the ovaries produce estrogens- both classes are present in both genders but in different
- during prenatal development, the differentiation depends primarily on the level of testosterone
- at puberty, they trigger maturation of primary (sex organs) and secondary (physical features not
involved in reproduction) sex characteristics
Horomones and Sexual Behaviour
- regulate sex drive
- androgen level appears to be related to sexual motivation in both genders (less strong in
- hiher levels of testosterone in both genders correlate with higher rated of sexual activity, but
estrogen levels in women do NOT correlate well with sexual interest

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Psychosocial Influences: same as the main sources of gender-role socialization
Influences: Friendssex education classes bf/gf media parents doctorssiblings
- significant influence
- before school age, kids usually engage in sexual play in the form of “playing doctor”
- parents who punish innocent, exploratory sexual play convey the idea that sex is dirty which
leads the kids to feel shame and guilt about their sexual urges and curiousity
- in a 2003 Gallup Youth survey 63% of teens (13-17yr) said their parents talked to them about
sex, whereas 36% said their parents left it up to school
- another survey reported that only 37% of young adults (13-24yr) thought they knew a lot about
sexual health and relationships from their parents
- leading source of relationship and sexual health information- only behind health care provider
and only in females
- sexual attitudes and behaviour positively related to those of their friends and peers
- most parents and the students themselves support sex education in schools
- studies show that 90% of schools offer some type of sex education, among them:
o30% are abstinence only programs (no information about contraceptive methods)
Do NOT delay, reduce, or deter kids from having sex early or at all
o47% are abstinence plus programs ( info about contraceptives and STIs)
o20% are comprehensive programs (info about everything)
Positive outcomes: increased contraceptives use, reduced pregnancy, reduced
high-risk sexual behaviour
Do NOT promote early sex and do NOT increase # of partners- can do opposite
- portrayal of sexual content is on the rise
- hearing about sex and seeing it on tv makes kids see it as permissive and can influence their
beliefs about typical sexual practices and their sexual intentions and behaviours
- only 10% of the top 20 temm programs reference sexual risks or repsonsiblities- more sexual
content in prime time shows then other shows
- 20% say they learn a lot from magazines
- Music: study showed that teens who listen to music lyrics that contain explicit references to
men as aggressive and women as objects are more likely to have sex sooner (rap music)
Gender Differences in Sexual Socialization
Letitia Anne Peplau concluded 5 major differences all true but 5 for homo couples:
1. men have more interest in sex than women
2. the connection b/n sex and intimacy is more important ot women than men (women prefer sex
in the context of a relationship)
3. aggression more linked to sexuality for men than women
4. women’s sexuality is more easily shaped by cultural and situational factors (sexual attitudes are
easier to change and their orientation is more likely to change over time)
5. in hetero couples, men typically initiate sex, while women are :gate-keepers” they choose if and
when it’s going to happen

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- sexual socialization usually takes longer for women than men b/c they have a fear of pregnancy,
they fear negative messages from people about men, women typically develop negative
associations about their genitals and sex that males don’t experience (blood and pain from
period and penetration), sexual guilt
- b/c both members of same-gender couples are socializes similarly, they are less likely than
straight couples to have compatibility problems
LIVING IN TODAY’S WORLD: Sex and the Internet
- “the influence is so significant that it will ultimately be recognizes as the next sexual revolution
- Researchers estimate that 20-33% of users engage is some form of online sexual activity
- Online survey showed that 39% of people have engaged in cybersex, but only 3% do it all the
time and 60% did NOT believe that it violates marriage vows
- Internet sex addiction is on the rise
Sexual Orientation
- Alfred Kinsey devised a 7-pt scale to chracterise sexual orientation- view homo/heterosexuality
as end points on a continuum rathen than an all-or-none distincition
o0 (exclusively heterosexual) 6 (exclusively homosexual)
- overall evidence suggests 5-8% of the population is homosexual
- Kinsey’s model is too simple so another model portrays sexual orinteation as a cluster of 7
factors that can be rated along Kinsey’s scale:
oSexual behaviour, emotional preference, sexual fantasies, sexual attraction, social
preference, lifestyle/social world/community, and self- identification (Klein, Wolf)
- Environmental explanation to why some people are gay/straight:
o Freud believed that homosexuality results from an unresolved Oedipus complex-
instead of coming to identify with the parent of the same gender, the child continues to
identify with the parent of the opposite gender
oLearning theorists believed that it is associated with negative early heterosexual or
positive early homosexual experiences
oHowever, there is NO evidence to prove either of the theories above
- Researchers have found that really feminine behaviour in younf boys and vise versa is
correlated with subsequent homosexuality; many gays say that they can trace their feelings to
their early childhood (less so in women b/c female sexuality is more fluid)
- There is also NO convincing evidence that biological factors can influence homosexuality
- May be a genetic factor: twin studies shoed that 52% of identical twins were gay, 22% of
faternal tiwns were gay, and 11% of their adoptive singlings are gay
- Bottom line is that it isn’t yet clear what determines sexual orientation
Attitudes about Homosexuality
- so many divisive debates over gay marriage and rights recently but it has value b/c it brought
issues like discrimination to our awareness; acceptance greatly due to visibility of likable gay
- sexual prejudice (homophobia is the extreme) is the lowest when people personally know
someone who is homosexual whereas the higest levels are associated with being older, male,
less educated, living in the South or Midwest and rural areas. Also correlated with
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