Cognitive Theories of gender development

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Cognitive Theories of gender development by Mind Map: Cognitive Theories of gender development

1. Methods of testing understanding of gender

1.1. Observation

1.1.1. i.e. which toys do they choose to play with?

1.2. Scenarios or vignettes

1.2.1. i.e. is it okay for George to play with dolls?

1.3. Preferential looking techniques

1.3.1. i.e. how much time is spent looking at a man hanging a tire in comparison to a women making a cake

2. Cognitive development theory - Kohlberg (1966)

2.1. GENDER IDENTITY - age 2 to 3.5 - child understands that they are a girl or a boy - can use these labels to refer to themselves and others - has little understanding of what it means to be a girl or boy

2.2. GENDER STABILITY - age 3.5 - they realise that their own sex won't change - they may still be misled by superficial changes to appearance and may believe that sudden changes in appearance e.g. a woman shaves her head, may lead a woman to become a man

2.2.1. McConaghy (1979) - children aged 3.5 to 4 tend to use hair length and clothes to decide upon the sex of a doll

2.3. GENDER CONSTANCY - age 4.5 to 7 - the child works out that gender is constant despite superficial changes - this motivates them to behave in a way that is expected of them as a boy or girl - children will pay more attention to same-sex models

2.3.1. This implies that gender role behaviours will appear around the age of 5

2.3.2. Slaby and Frey (1975) - split screen TV, one side displaying a woman making a cake and the other a man changing a tyre - children who were older (therefore had higher levels of gender constancy) spent more time watching the same-sex model

2.4. Evaluation

2.4.1. Reductionist: the complex interaction of mental processes is oversimplified into time-allocated phases

2.4.2. Free will : children are said to play an active role in their gender development, allowing them to have a lot of influence in controlling their masculinity or femininity, providing change through self-socialisation.

3. Gender Schema Theory - Martin and Halverson (1981)

3.1. GENDER IDENTITY - aged 2 to 3 - child works out that they are a boy or a girl - gender schemas are very simple here, consisting of 2 groups (boys and girls) - their same sex group is seen as the in-group and the opposite sex is seen as the out-group

3.2. BUILDING THE GENDER SCHEMA - child actively seeks out information about the appropriate behaviours and actions of their own group - paying close attention to things related to their own group and little attention to those related to the other gender

3.2.1. If children see something which contradicts a schema, they are likely to ignore it

3.3. GENDER PREFERENCES - So, toys from being neutral, become categorised as girls or boys toys etc

3.4. Evaluation

3.4.1. Campbell et al (2004) - longitudinal study - Ps shown a photo album of pictures and asked to point to the girl or boy, their relative toys and relative game/activity - at 2 years old, 53% could label their own sex whereas 94% of them could one year later (age 3) - stereotyping of toys and activities was seen in 20% of the two years olds, but then rose to 51% one year later. Indicates that there is rapid development in understanding of gender between aged 2 and 3

3.4.2. Accounts for free will - not DETERMINISTIC

3.4.3. Helps us understand why children's beliefs and attitudes about sex roles are so rigid

3.4.4. Does not emphasis where gender schemas originate

3.4.5. Overlooks the impact of parents and surrounding cultures such as school, friends and media Tenembaum and Leaper (2002) - children absurd gender schemas from their parents in a subtle way - what they see around them every day in the home (how labor is divided, who cleans and who earns what etc) may be taken for granted and absorbed as the norm - this is more significant than reinforcement or modeling Face validity

3.4.6. Nature: effect of genes/hormones is not considered

3.4.7. Ethnocentric and based on western cultures - there is a lack of cross- cultural reliability