There are several perspectives on how humans develop gender. Older perspectives that emphasized biological differences between males and females have given way to newer perspectives that account for the roles of both biology (e.g., hormones) and environment. When psychologists refer to the environment, they mean the social factors or socialization agents such as peers, family, school, and media, through which a person comes to understand and develop a gender identity. Although many perspectives are in agreement that socialization agents influence gender development, they differ in their conceptualizations of how, why, and to what degree this occurs. These perspectives have been studied and formulated into theories. Freud led the way with psychoanalytic theories of gender development, suggesting early unconscious drives were the foundation of gender development. Social learning theories are founded in reinforcement and observational models suggesting that gender development is learned.
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- Fall '16
- Christopher L. Litten, MA, Ph.D.