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Gender Issues in Psychology

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Gender Issues In Psychology (PSY - 512)
VU
Lecture 11
THEORIES OF GENDER DEVELOPMENT (3)
The Cognitive Approach
Recap:
The Behaviorist/ learning approach
The consequences of behavior and their impact
Shaping and the learning of gender roles
Observational Learning approach
The Cognitive Approach
The approach that focuses upon the thought processes underlying learning.
The approach that gives importance to cognition when understanding and explaining behavior.
This theory gives importance to the internal states of the person as well as the environmental events; however
it is the thinking and perception that is the key factor.
The term cognition refers to "knowledge" as well as "the process of knowing"
Cognitive approach emphasizes:
o  Thoughts
o  Feelings
o  Thinking
o  Values
o  Expectations etc
o  The core of the cognitive approach is the idea that people's thinking determines how they will
perceive the world, and how these perceptions will be acted upon.
The Cognitive Approach to Gender Roles
The theory proposes the interaction of mental schema and social experience in directing gender role behavior.
The cognitive approach focuses upon the child's "understanding". A child's understanding refers to the way
he/she perceives and tackles a phenomenon. Information about gender is organized into sets of beliefs about
the sexes i.e. gender schema Gender schema (plural schemata or schemas) is a mental framework that organizes
and guides a child understands of information relevant to gender. Example: information about which toys are
for girls and which toys are for boys forms schema that guides behavior.
Example: If a child has seen women being respected n his family, he will perceive women as a respectable
being; and if he has seen women being battered and maltreated he will perceive them as some low grade
creature.
Lawrence Kohlberg's Cognitive Development Theory: The concept of Gender Constancy:
Children understand gender just as they understand anything else. Children have experiences with people of
both genders, they think about their experiences, having made sort of mental notes of what males and females
do, and adopt behaviors performed by people of their own sex. Children do their own gender typing
themselves. They make classifications of themselves and of others as male or female, and organize their
behaviors around that classification. The gender roles that children adopt are organized around this
classification. Behaviors consistent with their own gender are adopted. This is reflected in their use of language,
clothes, toys etc. According to Kohlberg, acquisition of gender roles results from gender constancy i.e., a child's
understanding and awareness that his/ her sex is permanent, constant, and will never change. Gender
constancy is also known as sex category Constancy in modern literature. Gender appropriate behaviors are
adopted after the realization that sex is a permanent feature of personality. Gender constancy emerges
somewhere between 3-7 years of age. Gender constancy is the key to gender typing, according to Kohlberg.
Gender constancy is not a phenomenon that occurs at once, at one point in time. It takes place in three stages (
Ruble & Martin, 1998; Szkrybalo & Ruble):
Gender identity: Age 2-3 years; Becoming aware of one's own gender, and that of others.
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Gender Issues In Psychology (PSY - 512)
VU
Gender stability: Realization of boys and girls that they will grow up as men or women respectively, i.e.,
gender is a fixed, permanent, quality and an integral feature of their personality.
But at this stage they understand this on the basis of superficial, external appearances, and stereotyped
behaviors.
Gender Consistency: The awareness that gender remains the same no matter what one wears, how one
behaves, whatever hairstyle one has.
Although Kohlberg put forth the concept of gender constancy as a significant theme, there is not much solid
research evidence supporting it. Different researches have yielded findings quite different from, and even
contrary to, Kohlberg's hypothesis that gender constancy stage is the point where children actually learn gender
roles and relevant appropriate behaviors. It has been seen that at 2 ˝ years of age children begin to prefer the
company of children of their own sex. Also, girls are more interested in dolls and boys in cars (Ruble & martin,
1998). Long before attaining the stage of gender constancy, children exhibit gender- typed preferences (Bussey
& Bandura, 1992; Ruble & Martin 1998). Children can categorize activities and objects by gender, know a lot
about what males and females do, and often acquire gender appropriate behaviors (G. D. Levy & Carter, 1989;
Leucke Aleksa, Anderson, Collins, & Schmitt, 1995). Five- year old boys having reached gender constancy, or
almost there, pay more attention to male characters on TV and watch more sports and action programs in
comparison to other age mates (Leucke- Aleksa et al., 1995). Children tend to develop more complex beliefs
about gender later on; also they tend to become more flexible in their views about gender roles (Ruble &
Martin 1998; M. G. Taylor.1996).
Gender Schema Theory:
"A schema is a mentally organized network of gender- related Information that influences  behavior" (Papalia
et al. 2001).
Gender schema is a mental framework that organizes and guides a child's understanding of information
relevant to gender.
For example information about which toys are for girls and which toys are for boys form schema that guides
behavior.
According to gender schema theory, children first develop a simplified concept of male ­female distinctions
and later on apply it universally (Bem, 1989, 1993).
First of all children learn what sex they are.
Then they develop a concept of what it means to be male or female in their culture, and on the basis of the
development of this concept they begin to take on gender roles
Whatever observations they have of men and women, they organize those around the gender schema that they
have formed as a result of their observation of how their society classifies behaviors as male and female
including clothes and toys etc.
For example a child observes that it is always the mother who cooks, and the father is always the on who fixes
electrical appliances and faults. Gradually he develops the concept that household chores are meant to be done
by the mother (woman), and tougher tasks are handled by the father (man).
This leads to the assimilation of other similar ideas and perceptions, a realization that men are strong and
women weak.
If the father has to cook on a rare occasion, it doesn't match with the "all in control schema of the father" and
the child notes this discrepancy.
Gender schemata influence judgments about behavior thus promoting gender stereotypes.
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Gender Issues In Psychology (PSY - 512)
VU
The gradual process of development of gender schema:
Stage
Age
Description
Gender identification
2-3.5
Children believe it is possible to change sex by
years
wearing clothes of opposite sex. Can identify
household gender stereotypes: (mechanical tools used
by father and the mother works in kitchen). Gender
labeling is learned.
Gender stability
3.5-4.5
Sex is stable over time, not situations. Older peers and
years
siblings are models for social learning of gender roles.
Boys may play with the toys socially labeled as girl's
toys but do not own them ultimately. Child applies
labels to self and others, but they may be inconsistent
Gender consistency
4.5-7
Sex is stable. Children value and imitate same sex
years
behaviors. This leads to development of gender
appropriate attributes
Slaby and Frey (1975): children with gender consistency attend more to the same-sex model
Children use cognitive processes to choose appropriate gender-related behaviors. Cognitive theory argues that
gender behavior is learnt by viewing others' behavior through social learning process
Learning of Gender Roles by Preschoolers
Preschoolers do have an idea of gender roles, but their cognitive experiences are simple, not complex. They see
things in simpler terms i.e., at concrete level. They see males and females as total opposites, as they judge
things on their appearance and face value; for example, thinking that the volume of water changes when
poured into differently shaped glasses; or the volume of plasticine changes when its shape is changed. Past
experiences have not yet assimilated into their existing schema. Preschoolers' cognitive patterns are egocentric
and static. Children develop a simplified concept of male- female distinctions and then apply it universally
(Bem, 1989, 1993).
Children form a script describing what the various gender roles should be, and then intellectually follow that
script (Levy, & Fivush, 1993; Martin, 1993).
Children fit their cognitive experiences into the script they have. If their experiences are vague, ambiguous, or
contradictory, then preschoolers look for the script. In a study children were given gender ­neutral, unfamiliar
toys. Initially they tried to find out and decide if they were meant for boys or girls. Then they made a decision
considering which ones they wanted to play with or not (Martin et al., 1995).
The Concept of Self- socialization
Children are the protagonists in their own gender role socialization, and act as active agents.
Self- socialization is a three- step process:
Around ages 5-6, children learn to classify themselves as males or females, and sex as a permanent quality is
recognized
Children are motivated by this self- categorization to value characteristics and behaviors associated with their
sex
They try to bring their own behavior at participant with the behaviors considered gender appropriate in their
culture. (Geis, 1993).
So children identify and note gender behaviors, identify and note their gender identity, and make effort to
remove disparities between the two.
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Gender Issues In Psychology (PSY - 512)
VU
Piaget's stages of cognitive development and development of gender roles
Stage
Age
Description
Preoperational
2-4 years
Thinking is concrete, not logical, judges on appearance. Gender
Stage
labeling
Uses cues such as dress, hair, Can change sex if appearance is made
different.
Develop categories associated with sex/gender.
Identify them as male or female.
Use stereotypes as rules
Concrete
7-12 years
Thinking is logical, but limited to
operational Stage
concrete
Cognitive understanding of
permanence of gender develops
Formal Operational
12 year-
Thinking is scientifically logical, can be applied to abstract concepts.
stage
adulthood
Adolescents become more rigid in
sex-typing
Is the Cognitive Approach the Only Best approach?
This approach has ignored the role of biological factors that are involved in developing cognitive schema.
Cultural differences in forming gender roles are not addressed
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Common misconception, Some questions to ponder
  2. FEMINIST MOVEMENT:Forms or Varieties of Feminism, First wave feminists
  3. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:Functionalism, Psychoanalytic Psychology:
  4. Gender- related Research:Andocentricity, Overgeneralizing, Gender Blindness
  5. RESEARCH METHODS FOR GENDER ISSUES:The Procedure of Content Analysis
  6. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH:Limitations Of Quantitative Research
  7. BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GENDERSHormones and Chromosomes
  8. BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GENDERS: HORMONES AND NERVOUS SYSTEM
  9. THEORIES OF GENDER DEVELOPMENT:The Biological Approach,
  10. THEORIES OF GENDER DEVELOPMENT (2):The Behavioral Approach
  11. THEORIES OF GENDER DEVELOPMENT (3):The Cognitive Approach
  12. THEORIES OF GENDER DEVELOPMENT (3):Psychoanalytic Feminism
  13. OTHER APPROACHES:The Humanistic Approach, Cultural Influences
  14. GENDER TYPING AND STEREOTYPING:Development of sex-typing
  15. GENDER STEREOTYPES:Some commonly held Gender Stereotypes
  16. Developmental Stages of Gender Stereotypes:Psychoanalytic Approach, Hostile sexism
  17. CULTURAL INFLUENCE & GENDER ROLES:Arapesh, Mundugumor
  18. DEVELOPMENT OF GENDER ROLE IDENTIFICATION:Gender Role Preference
  19. GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PERSONALITY:GENDER DIFFERENCES IN BULLYING
  20. GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PERSONALITY:GENDER, AFFILIATION AND FRIENDSHIP
  21. COGNITIVE DIFFERENCES:Gender Differences in I.Q, Gender and Verbal Ability
  22. GENDER AND MEDIA:Print Media and Portrayal of Genders
  23. GENDER AND EMOTION:The components of Emotions
  24. GENDER, EMOTION, & MOTIVATION:Affiliation, Love, Jealousy
  25. GENDER AND EDUCATION:Impact of Educational Deprivation
  26. GENDER, WORK AND WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT:Informal Work
  27. GENDER, WORK AND WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT (2):Glass-Ceiling Effect
  28. GENDER, WORK & RELATED ISSUES:Sexual Harassment at Workplace
  29. GENDER AND VIOLENCE:Domestic Violence, Patriarchal terrorism
  30. GENDER AND HEALTH:The Significance of Women’s Health
  31. GENDER, HEALTH, AND AGING:Genetic Protection, Behavioral Factors
  32. GENDER, HEALTH, AND AGING:Physiological /Biological Effects, Changes in Appearance
  33. GENDER DIFFERENCES IN AGING:Marriage and Loneliness, Empty Nest Syndrome
  34. GENDER AND HEALTH PROMOTING BEHAVIORS:Fitness and Exercise
  35. GENDER AND HEALTH PROMOTING BEHAVIOR:The Classic Alameda County Study
  36. GENDER AND HEART DISEASE:Angina Pectoris, The Risk factors in CHD
  37. GENDER AND CANCER:The Trend of Mortality Rates from Cancer
  38. GENDER AND HIV/AIDS:Symptoms of AIDS, Mode of Transmission
  39. PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH FEMALES’ REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
  40. OBESITY AND WEIGHT CONTROL:Consequences of Obesity, Eating Disorders
  41. GENDER AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY:Gender, Stress and Coping
  42. GENDER AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY:The Diagnostic Criteria
  43. GENDER AND PSYCHOTHERAPY:Traditional Versus Feminist Theory
  44. FEMINIST THERAPY:Changes targeted at societal level
  45. COURSE REVIEW AND DISCUSSION OF NEW AVENUES FOR RESEARCH IN GENDER ISSUES