The Theories of Sex and Gender

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The Theories of Sex and Gender Sex and gender are two very separate factors in the debate of how gender acquisition occurs. Sex is a biological fact determined by the chromosomes inherited from parents. Gender however, refers to the behaviour, beliefs, attitude and sense of identity that society perceives as being appropriate for either a male or a female, and therefore gender is regarded as a social fact. MOGHADDAM (1998, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002). There are four main theories in the gender acquisition debate, Evolutionary Psychology, Psychoanalytical Theory, Social Learning Theory and Cognitive-development Theory. This paper aims to describe and evaluate Social Learning Theory and Cognitive-development Theory. Social Learning theorists believe the development of gender occurs as a result of a child’s social experience and think much of this learning can be explained by conditioning and observational learning. Sex-role and gender behaviours are learned in the same way as any other behaviour. In terms of conditioning, parents socialise their children, preparing them for adult gender roles by providing them with gender-appropriate toys. In many societies girls are given dolls and cooking equipment in preparation for the maternal and domestic aspects of their adult gender role. BANDURA & WALTERS (1963, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002) Social Learning theorists also think that children learn gender roles from same sex role models such as parents, peers, teachers and media figures who provide children with opportunities to observe and imitate behaviours, this is known as observational learning. O... ... middle of paper ... ...r cognitive and motivational factors. This new theory, Social Cognitive Theory, suggests that a child has it’s own ability to regulate his/her own activities according to the rules of gender appropriate behaviour. This combines Social Learning Theory with Cognitive Development Theory and shows a move from parental control over this process to an understanding that children actively evaluate situations and adapt their behaviour accordingly. This more recent theory aims to broaden and combine earlier approaches and to develop them further. Reference List ============== Cardwell.M, Clark.L, Meldrum.C (2000) Psychology for A Level London Harper Collins Haralambos.M, Rice.D, Foreman.N, Jones.S, Stenner.P, Brown.S, Kinderman.P, Sharp.K (2002) Psychology in Focus for A Level Lancashire Causeway Press

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