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Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

WEEK 12: CHILD DEVELOPMENT Why Look at Gender? • Three primary reasons for focussing on gender • First, the sexual dimorphism in our species provides a good “natural control group” for some interesting cognitive adaptations • Second, it is a good opportunity to put out commitment to viewing nature and nurture as working together, not in opposition, to the test • Third, looking at the adaptations of men as a group and of women as a group allow us an opportunity to consider the fit between adaptations and the adaptive problems they solve Gender Roles in the EEA • Men and women experienced different selection pressures in the EEA • It is likely that the biggest sex differences in terms of selection pressures were rooted in the social and familial division of labour • In addition, men and women had different specialties when it came to providing • Hunting was done mostly by males and that foraging was mostly done by females • Female contribution to the household varies considerably across societies • Males extent to which they contribute to their mates and offspring varies greatly across societies • Cross-cultural data supporting the idea that boys have a larger range of exploration than girls and that boys explore farther form home, starting in early childhood • Navigation abilities will be greater in males only for those species in which greater navigation abilities were selected for Adaptive Sex Differences • Complex designs are built when one very small change, mediated by one beneficial mutation, becomes universal in the species and that, at some point in the future, a new change, caused by a new beneficial mutation, becomes universal in the population • Some adaptive genetic differences that do not require numerous genes working in tandem might vary regionally across the globe, such as genes underlying malaria susceptibility and sickle-cell anemia • Males and females are two different morphs of the same species • Means there are two different phenotypes, each of which shows a coherent set of complex adaptation, and the genes that underlie the complex adaptations are universal to every individual in the species • Sex differences result from each sex having a complete set of adaptations that optimize one reproductive strategy or another • These adaptation include morphological, physiological, endocrinology, cognitive, and emotional adaptations • Sex is defined, biologically, in terms of gamete size • Males produce the smaller gamete and females produce the larger gamete The Development of Sex and Gender • A fertilized egg has 46 chromosomes, comprising of 23 pairs • 22 of those paris are autosomes WEEK 12: CHILD DEVELOPMENT • Autosomes: any pair of chromosomes that are not sex chromosomes • The default development of external genitalia is female: without androgens influencing development, the baby will have the external appearance of a female • The Y chromosome typically changes thus by putting the developing fetus on the path to masculine development, and this is just about the only thing the Y chromosome does • SRY Gene: the gene on the Y chromosome usually associated with male development in mammals, SRY is an acronym for sex-determining region Y • Testis Determining Factor: a protein that will likely trigger the development of the fetus’s testes in typical male development • Sex hormones, both androgens and estrogens, can affect neurons by manipulating the onset and rate of growth of axons and dendrites • Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: a condition in which a person has a mutation in the gene associated with the development of androgen receptors. Without functioning androgen receptors, a person with an XY karyotype can develop a female phenotype • Males are more likely than females to suffer from a spontaneous miscarriage • They are more vulnerable to physical and mental forms of developmental abnormalities and are more likely to die shortly after birth as well • Boys are more active in utero than girls • The masculinization of the genitals occurs in the middle of the second trimester and is dependent upon a surge in androgens at that point • The masculinization of the brain, and apparently the concurrent masculinization of gender identity, takes place just prior to and around the time of birth and relies on a new surge of androgens at that time • Postnatal Development • Differences in behaviour emerged because they offer reproductive advantages • Studies of play behaviour in boys and girls suggest that children practice the sex- specific skills they are developing: boys are more likely to engage in rough and tumble play wile girls are more likely to participate in pretend parenting • Physical Size and Strength •Early in life, males and females appear similar in size, and there is tremendous overlap between girls and boys, but as a group, girls are measurably smaller, lighter, healthier, more mature, and less muscular right from birth •During childhood, boys and girls have similar growth rates, but boys continue to be measurably stronger • Motor Skills •At birth, girls are generally more coordinated than boys •On average, boys have an advantage on measures that require strength and power •Girths at this age are superior in fine motor skills and balance •The sex difference sin motor skills increase with age, and physical differences between boys and girls greatly increase after puberty •In middle childhood, girls are still better at fine motor skills, a difference that shows up in a penmanship and drawing •Girls have superior skills in balance and agility •Boys are superior on gross motor skills and strength WEEK 12: CHILD DEVELOPMENT • Verbal Skills • Girls as a group tend to be slightly stronger in language development • Girls use words earlier, have larger early vocabularies, show more grammatical complexity, and have superior verbal memories • Quantitative Skills • Girls receive higher grades in mat than boys, although on average, boys perform better on high-stakes tests of math • Males, as a group, tend to be stronger than females in some aspects of visual- spatial processing • Boys and girls do particularly well on different kinds of math problems: girls do better on computational problems; boys do better on math reasoning • Social Skills • Girls orient toward people by turning toward both faces and voices more than boys do, girls smile more at other people, maintain eye contact longer, and participate in more face to face communication • Except for anger, women experience emotions more intensely • Spatial Skills • Preschool boys are better than girls at tasks that require spatial rotation and this male spatial rotation superiority continues through childhood and adulthood • Compared to girls, boys are better at navigating both real and virtual environments • Girls who have abnormally high parental androgen levels show superior performance on spatial rotation tasks • Girls are better than boys at remembering the locations of specific objects among an array of various objects • Aggression • Boys are more physically aggressive than girls • Girls are more relationally aggressive than boys • Interests and Free Time • Boys tend to interact with other boys, and they tend to play with more active and constructive toys like blocks and toy vehicles • Girls tend to spend time among other girls and tend to play with quieter toys associated with fine motor skills, such as drawing, reading, etc • Boys activities taken them farther from home, and girls are more likely to be found close to home • It is possible that this sex difference in play facilitates the development of spatial cognition in boys • Boys and girls are attracted to different types of play in early childhood, and those different types of play contribute to sex difference in cognitive development that were adaptive, given the sex-specific tasks of our ancestors living in the EEA • Girls Understanding of Gender • Infants appear to be able to tell the difference between the sexes using multiple perceptual cues WEEK 12: CHILD DEVELOPMENT •By the latter half of the second year, children begin forming gender-related expectations about the kinds of objects and activities that are typically associated with males and females •Gender stereotypes become stronger until around the age of 4, when children actually act as gender enforcers •Boys are particularly intolerant of cross-gender behaviour •In middle childhood, children can be fairly tolerant of a girl who crosses gender lines but are harsh critics of a boy who crosses gender lines •Between the age of 9-12, boys increasingly adhere to gender expectations during a time when girls relax their adherence to feminine expectations •This period of gender freedom for girls ends in early adolescence, a period of intensifying attitudes toward gender norms •Girls especially experience an increase in gender-typed attitudes and behaviours after adolescence Puberty • Puberty is a coordinate set of changes that lead to sexual maturation and entry into the sexually reproductive years • Menarche: the point in female puberty at which the first menstrual bleeding occurs • Spermarche: the point in male pub
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