Factors That Influence Gender Identity Essay

Factors That Influence Gender Identity Essay

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Identity is most simply defined as a person's own sense of self; their personal sense of who they are. Identity development is intrinsically linked with adolescence because, according to Santrock citing Marcia & Carpendale, "...for the first time, physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development advance to the point at which the individual can sort through and synthesize childhood identities and identifications to construct a viable path toward adult maturity". We often see the results of this sorting process in behaviors of adolescents such as adopting and shedding different personas including speech patterns, clothing styles and peer groups. Although these transitions often seem drastic and swift, adolescents are utilizing their newly honed abilities efficiently to assess, decipher and ultimately construct their own unique identity. Just as any structure is built with individual building blocks, forged together to create a whole, so is the identity.
The most fundamental building block of identity is temperament. Temperament, defined by Santrock, is an individual's behavioral style and characteristic way of responding. Because temperament is so basic, it is present and quantifiable in early infancy, long before other more complex aspects of identity. As a result, Santrock cites Galambos & Costigan's finding that, much of the research done on temperament is done on infants and children. Just as identity development and adolescence are inherently linked, so are the concepts of personality and temperament. Personality is most basically defined as the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make a person unique. In considering this relationship, first conceive of personality in the five factor struct...

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...ors like gender shape a adolescent's sense of who they are. From the moment we are born we are bombarded with messages about what it means, in our society, to be the sex we are assigned at birth. These are messages about gender. As soon as a child attains gender constancy they are very interested in participating in activities that are aligned with their respective gender. Step into any preschool or daycare environment and you will be confronted with girls in pink and frills playing with baby-dolls and boys playing with trucks and balls all the while clad in clothes with the same articles portrayed upon them. These children have received loudly and clearly gendered messages about who they are based on their sex. They have never considered whether they want to be feminine or masculine or even what those words mean to them they simply adopt and imitate.

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