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Unformatted text preview: 1 Chapter 16: Gender-Role Development and Sex Differences In this chapter... Sex differentiation : the biological process through which physical differences between sexes emerge Sex difference means that males and females differ on the particular personality trait or psychological characteristic under discussion, we are not assuming anything about the biological or environmental origins of that difference Gender role : (aka sex-role stereotype) a pattern or set of behaviours considered appropriate for males or females within a particular culture Sex typing : the process by which children develop the behaviours and attitudes considered appropriate for their gender and is assumed to involve a combination of biological, cognitive, and social mechanisms Theories of Gender-Role Development and Sex Differences Evolutionary and Biological Approaches The evolutionary and biological approaches focus on the contributions of innate biological factors to the development of sex differences, gender roles, and sexual orientation. Evolutionary Approaches Evolutionary approaches to development focus on the adaptive function of behaviours and traits. Most evolved adaptations are species-wide and occur in both males and females (ie attachment to caregivers). Evolutionary theorists say that to understand sex differences we must look at the reproductive roles of males and females. Females invest way more than the males do, (ie parenting, pregnancy, nursing...) thus females evolved to be choosier about their mates whereas males evolved to focus on mating. Evolutionary theorists say that sex differences that emerge during childhood reflect and help the young prepare for later reproductive roles (ie higher aggression in boys is preparation for 2 competition over mates in the future while girls’ inhibitory control reflects the challenges they will face in choosing mates and caring for children) Psychobiological Approaches Researchers who want to attribute biology to sex differences concentrate on hormones. During the prenatal period, fetal hormones guide the development of reproductive organs and there is growing evidence that these sex hormones also affect the organization of the CNS. Sex hormones after puberty are also believed to activate the neural systems and behavioural patterns laid down earlier. Hormones can cause differences within each sex due to hormonal disorders. Other differences can be due to variations in hormone levels which can be influenced by innumerable environmental factors (ie outside temperatures, immunological reactions and maternal stress) Sociocultural Approaches The sociocultural approach says that gender roles develop as children participate in and...
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2011 for the course PSYC 304 taught by Professor Majorieauderabiau during the Winter '08 term at McGill.
- Winter '08