May22nd2008 - Sex Differences in Behavior Development of...

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1 Sex Differences in Behavior Sex Differences in Behavior • Development of behavior is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors • The goal today is not to establish that behaviors are hormonally/genetically regulated or learned (both factors are important!) Play Behavior • Captive vervet monkey showed sex differences in toy preferences – Male monkeys were more likely to play with cars and balls – Female monkeys were more likely to play with dolls Rough and Tumble Play What Causes These Differences? • Pregnant females were given testosterone • Female offspring developed as pseudohermaphrodites (external genetalia was masculinized) • Researchers studied play behavior Organization of Behavior • Play behavior of pseudohermaphrodites was more like males than females (note, not an exact match) • Indicates that testosterone acts during development to organize the brain to function more male-like 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Rough and tumble play (frequency) Males PseudoH Female
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2 Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia • A disorder in which the adrenal gland produces androgens instead of cortisol (androgens are a precursor to cortisol) • Girls are born with ambiguous genitalia. Treatment with dexamethasone (a form of cortisol) and reconstructive surgery • Early treatment usually results in normal lives Behavioral Changes • Surveys reported that girls treated for CAH were more likely to : – Prefer male playmates – Be characterized as “tomboys” – Display reduced interest in infant care – Prefer “male-typical” toys • Hard to assess impact of environmental factors, since child and parents know about the early hormonal abnormality Behavioral Observations • A subsequent study secretly observed play sessions of girls with CAH and unaffected sisters • Girls with CAH showed masculinized of some aspects of play behavior (but not rough and tumble play) 0 20 40 60 80 100 Percentage male Boy CAH Boy Con Girl CAH Girl Con Sex of Preferred Playmates Hines & Kaufman 1994, Child Development , Volume 65, 1042-1053. CAH and Play Behavior
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This note was uploaded on 09/13/2010 for the course PSC Psychology taught by Professor Cossowings during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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May22nd2008 - Sex Differences in Behavior Development of...

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