The Influence Of Gender Identity

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Gender identity is a private idea on how an individual identifies either as a male or female, some may also identify as both or neither. Gender identity is essentially self-identified, this is resulted by the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, i.e. induced by biological and social factors. Gender identity is a powerful aspect of self-concept that is formed in early childhoods and is very resistant to change in most adults, (Lips, 2001: 54). Gender identity steadily develops in levels with age. It has been shown that from as early as 9-12 months, children have the capability to distinguish people by gender, they react to pictures of faces of males and females differently, (Brooks-Gunn, J., & Lewis, M. 1979). By 2 years of age, children use correct gendered semantics when they referred to the people in the photographs, (Gelman et al, 2004). At 3 years old, some are competent to label themselves by their gender, (Weinraub et al, 1984). It was found that children around aged of 4 spent a longer period observing the model in the image when the model’s sex was the same as theirs (Slaby and Frey, 1975). Around the age of six the child understands that their gender remains consistent regardless of time or situation i.e. “I will still be a boy, even if I choose to dress like a girl”, they also begin to recognise with people of their own gender and start to behave in ways that are seen as gender-appropriate (i.e. girls should be timid whilst boys should be dominant), (Kholberg’s Cognitive-Development Theory of Gender, 1966). Once children reach the age of 9 years, they possess gender stereotypes that are similar to that of adults (i.e. girls are gentle and weak whilst boys are strong and are loud), (Serbin et al, 1993). These ... ... middle of paper ... social understandings begin. Children do not acknowledge sex differences until they have reached the social stage, this is primarily due to style of parent’s rearing practices which impacts how the child chooses to identify in terms of gender. The theory therefore should consider other factors before settling on a fixed concept. There are also limitations regarding the social explanations for gender identity. One problem with this particular theory is that it is a reductionist approach. The social theory does not think about the influence of biological factors and only focus on the impact if situational factors as it fails to provide a holistic view on gender identity, this results in the social theory lacking in internal validity. Also, psychological critics have debated that the social theory does not explain learning styles and processes can change with age.
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