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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Infancy and Childhood.docx

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York University
PSYC 3480
Noreen Stuckless

Chapter 3 Infancy and Childhood  Gender typing: how children acquire their knowledge about gender and how they develop their gender related personality characteristics, preferences, skills, behaviors and self concepts Background on Gender Development  Prenatal period- time before birth  Infancy- the period between birth and 18 months of life  Our culture conveys messages about gender during infancy Prenatal Sex Development  Sex chromosomes: the chromosomes that determine whether the embryo will be genetically female or male  In prenatal sex development, the other 22 chromosome pairs determine all the additional physiological and psychological characteristics  Typical Prenatal Development: o Female and male embryos differ in their chromosomes but until above 6 weeks after conception, they are identical in all other characteristics. o Each human fetus has two sets of primitive internal reproductive systems. o The internal female system, called Mullerian ducts, will eventually develop into uterus, egg ducts and part of the vagina. o The internal male system, called Wolffian ducts, will eventually develop into the male internal reproductive system o The sex glands of males and females also look identical during the first weeks after conception o In about the 3 month after conception, the fetus’s hormones encourage further sex differentiation, including the development of the external genitals. o In males, the testes secrete two substances. One of these, the Mullerian inhibiting hormone shrinks the Mullerian ducts. The testes also secrete androgen. High levels of androgen encourage the growth and development for the Wolffian ducts. o It also encourages the growth of the external genitals. o In females’ prenatal development, the ovaries begin to make estrogen. However, researchers currently believe that estrogen does not play an important role in the development of female organs. o Consistent with the “invisible female” theme, we know much less about prenatal development in females than in males o In summary, typical sexual development follows a complex sequence before birth: Conception- when generic sex is determined. Female and male embryos are anatomically identical for the first weeks after conception. Four additional processes then lead to the differentiation of females and males: 1. The development of the internal reproductive system 2. The development of the gonads 3. The production of hormones 4. The development of the external genitals Atypical Prenatal Development  Prenatal development sometimes takes a different pathway which results in an intersexed infant whose biological sex is not clearly female or male.  Intersexed individual: has genitals that that are not clearly female or male  An intersexed individual also does not have the chromosomes or an internal reproductive system, gonads, hormones, and external genitals that are consistently female or consistently male  Sterling estimated that intersexed individuals represent about 2% of the general population  Two types of atypical patterns: 1. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia o Genetic females (XX) receive as much androgen as males do during prenatal development. The excess androgen causes their genitals to look somewhat masculine at birth. The traditional medical treatment has been surgery, even though it is not medically necessary so that the genitals can appear more feminine 2. Androgen insensitivity syndrome o The condition in which genetic males (XY) produce normal amounts of androgen but a genetic condition makes their bodies not respond to androgen o As a result, the genital tubercle does not grow into a penis; the external genitals look female o These children are usually labeled girls because they lack a penis. However, they have a shallow cavity instead of a complete vagina, and they have no uterus. o This syndrome is usually discovered when they do not begin to menstruate at the normal time of puberty People’s Responses to Infant Girls and Boys  Parental preferences about sex of children  In the past, researchers in the US and Canada have found that most men and women preferred to have a boy as their first born child  More recent research shows no clear cut pattern of parents’ stated preferences about the gender of their offspring  However, more subtle measures seem to reveal the preferences of many north Americans  In birth announcements, parents were more likely to express pride following the birth of a boy, and more likely to express happiness following the birth of a girl  In other cultures, parents do have a strong preferences for boys  In India and Korea, many women are seeking prenatal sex determination and if the fetus is a girl, they have an abortion. This is also common in China.  This bias against female babies also appears in other cultures, even those that do not practice selective abortion  People’s Stereotypes About Infant Girls and Boys o In a study conducted by Karraker, she investigated parents two days after their infant daughters or sons had been born. Results showed that parents of boys rated their son as relatively strong, and parents of girls rated them as relatively weaken. o Parents also treat their sons and daughters differently by choosing gender appropriate room decorations and toys  Theories of Gender Development 1. In the social learning approach, children learn gender related behaviors from other people o Proposes two major mechanisms for explaining how girls learn to act feminine and how boys learn to act masculine o Emphasizes behaviour  Children are rewarded for “gender appropriate” behaviour and they are punished for “gender inappropriate” behaviour  Children directly learn many gender-related behaviors, based on positive and negative responses from other people  Children watch and imitate the behavior of people from their own gender category  Children learn by watching and imitating them, a process called modeling or observational learning 2. In the cognitive developmental approach, children actively synthesize and create their own thoughts about gender o Emphasizes thoughts o Argues that children are active thinkers who seek information from their environment o Children also try to make sense of this information and organize it in a coherent fashion o One important concept in the cognitive developmental approach is called a Schema o A schema is a general concept that we use to organize our thoughts and attitudes about a topic o At an early age, children develop powerful gender schemas; they organize information into two conceptual categories, female and male o These gender schemas encourage children to think and act in gender stereotyped ways that are consistent with their gender schemas o According to the cognitive developmental approach to gender development, children actively work to make sense of their own gender o One of the first major steps in gender development is GENDER IDENTITY, a girl labeling herself as a girl and a boy labeling himself as a boy. o After the children label themselves, they learn how to classify other males and females. 3. General comments about Theories of Gender Development o Children’s behaviour is important, as proposed by the social learning approach. A. Children are rewarded and punished for gender related behaviour B. Children model their behaviour after same gender individuals o Children’s thoughts are important, as proposed by the cognitive developmental theory. A. Children develop powerful gender schemas
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