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Life-Span Human Development  9th Edition

Life-Span Human Development (9th Edition)

Book Edition9th Edition
Author(s)Rider, Sigelman
PublisherCengage Learning
Section 12.1: Sex and Gender
Making Connections
Section 12.2: The Infant
Figure Question
Checking Mastery
Making Connections
Section 12.3: The Child
Section 12.4: The Adolescent
Making Connections
Section 12.5: The Adult
Figure Question
Making Connections
Chapter 12, Section 12.1, Checking Mastery, Exercise 1
Page 370

What is the central feature of agency and of communion?

Here is a tip:

There are decided roles of the society that are oriented according to the gender that influences the gender roles followed by a person.


Gender-role is spread in the society where the humans are live and according to the gender, there are several expectancies of the roles. The two factors that have led to the differences in the role played by males and females are based on communion and agency. These two factors are considered as the fundamental dimensions of individual nature.

  • Communion refers to the ability to be sensitive to others to nurture them. Since women have to take care of children and families, they have to cater to the emotional needs of others. It is expected that women be comforting and emotionally mature to handle their family. Since females tend to play such communal roles, this has led to the propagation of a stereotype about gender roles.
  • Agency refers to an orientation to be independent, active, and instrumental to achieve goals. For instance, men are expected to take up jobs, earn money, and fend for their families. They have to be enterprising to make sure that their family is comfortable. According to psychologists, men tend to propagate such traditional stereotypes because agency orientation allows them to be seen in a more positive light. 

Verified Answer

There are differences in physical appearance and the societal roles that people of different genders assume. Because of their physical capabilities, women have assumed the role of nurturers and men are considered as the family warriors for survival. This is based on two concepts:

  • Communion - It is an orientation that focuses on catering to other's needs. This includes the ability to understand and express emotions. Girls who choose communal roles are more likely to play the role of a wife or a mother. Females are considered as the caretaker of their families and nurture their children into adults.
  • Agency - It is the orientation that focuses on achieving and taking up an action to fulfil a goal. Such behavior requires the individual to be independent, dominant, and assertive. Boys are usually expected to take up these roles to fulfill the needs of the family. This includes the male's ability to systemize, plan, and organize to get things done in a certain way.
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