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A2 Psychology > Gender > Flashcards

Flashcards in Gender Deck (22):

What is someone's sex and how is it determined?

Sex is the biological status of males and females. It is mostly determined by their chromosomes which influence their hormones + anatomical differences that distinguish males and females (e.g reproductive organs, body shape and hair growth).


What is gender?

Described as being either masculine or feminine it reflects the attitudes that we associate with being male or female.
It is considered to be more fluid and an individual can change to be more masculine or feminine.


What is GID?

Gender Identity disorder. This is when a person's gender does not line up with their biological sex. This can be solved with gender reassignment surgery - which brings a persons sexual identify inline with their gender identity.


What are sex role stereotypes?

They are sterotypes that are shared by a group or culture regarding how males and females should behave.
These are transmitted through society and reinforced by members of it.


Why may sex-role stereotypes have questionable validity?

Some expectations may have a basis in reality - i.e in a heterosexual couple the male may do DIY whilst the female sends birthday cards.
However there is no biological reason for this to be the case. Many sex-role stereotypes are incorrect and can lead to sexist and damaging attitudes. For example the stereotype that women are too emotional to cope with high-powered jobs.


What research confirms sex-role stereotypes within the media?

Furnham and Farragher's (2000) study of TV adverts found that men were more likely to be shown in professional contexts, whilst women are more likely to be shown in familial roles within domestic settings.
This, alongside other studies, demonstrates the existence of sex-role stereotypes and the role the media has in reinforcing this.


What is androgyny?

The balance of masculine + feminine traits, behaviours and attitudes.


Why is androgyny seen as a positive characteristic?

BEM (1974) suggested that it is associated with high mental well being. Individuals who are androgynous are better equipped to adapt to a range of situations.


How is androgyny different to over representation of opposite characteristics?

There needs to be a balance of both male and female traits to be androgynous.


What is the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI)?

Created in 1974 by Bem, measures masculine-feminine factors and how people see themselves (psychologically).


How are items in the BRSI categorised?

They are either masculine, feminine or neutral.
Masculine items include dominant, competitive, and athletic.
Feminine items include gentle, affectionate and sympathetic.
Neutral characteristics are ones that do not apply to one sex such as truthful, friendly or ineffectual.


What is the scale of the BRSI?

It has 60 questions (20 feminine, 20 masculine and 20 neutral trait items).
Participants use a 7 scale rating for each trait - 1 is phrased "never true of me" whilst 7 is "always true of me".


How many categorisations can the BRSI make?

It can make 4 categorisations:
1) Masculine - high score on masculine items + low score on feminine
2) Feminine - high score on feminine items and low on masculine items
3) Androgynous - high scores on both masculine and feminine items
4) Unclassified - low results on both masculine + feminine scales.


What are the strengths of the BRSI?

Research to support it: 50 males and 50 females rated 200 desirable traits for both genders, the top twenty became the items. etc. This increases reliability - as the study corresponded with participants and produced the same results in both occasions.


What are the weaknesses of the BRSI?

Claims androgyny is good for mental health - may not have taken into account social and cultural context (decreases external validity).
It may be overly simple, assuming gender can be represented by numbers. Decreases internal vapidity and thus our understanding of gender.
Low temporal validity - was produced 40 years ago and ideals of gender have moved on. Thus its usefulness may only apply to 70's america - low temporal validity.


What is the role of Chromosomes in gender?

Chromosomes are short sections of DNA, of which humans have 23 pairs. The 23rd pair determines biological sex. These are either X or Y. XX is female chromosomes and XY is male.
The Y chromosone carries a gene called the sex-determining region Y (SRY). This causes the testes to develop and androgens to be produced in the male embryo. Without androgens the embryo develops into a female.


What is the role of hormones in gender?

Prenatally hormones act upon brain development and cause development of the reproductive organs.
At puberty a burst of activity triggers the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as pubic hair. Males and females produce the same hormones, but it different concentrations.


What is the role of testosterone in gender development and aggression?

Testosterone controls the development of male sex organs from the 5th month of foetal development. It is linked to aggressive behaviour in both genders and both humans and animals. A study showed that female rats injected with testosterone became more physically and sexually aggressive.


How is Oestrogen involved in the development of gender and behaviour?

It controls female sexual characteristics including menstruation. During the menstrual cycle some women experience heightened emotionality and irritability -PMS.
In some cases PMS has been used as a defence for violent behaviour in women.


How is Oxytocin implicated in lactation and bonding?

Oxytocin is typically produced in larger amounts by women compared to men. It stimulates lactation after birth, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and facilitates bonding. This may explain why females are more interested in intimacy in relationships than men - though during kissing and cuddling they are produced in the same amounts.


What are a strength for the role of chromosomes and hormones in gender?

Research to support. One study found that in a prison population offenders with the highest amount of testosterone were more likely to have committed a violent or sexual crime. Another found that MTF transsexuals showed a decrease in aggression and visuo-spatial skills whilst FTM showed the opposite. These studies support the reliability of the explanation.


What are three limitations of the explanation of gender using chromosomes and hormones?

Some evidence is contradictory. One study gave males either 10 weekly injections of testosterone or a placebo and found no significant differences in aggression. Another study demonstrated that hormones had no consistent effect on gender-related behaviour. This research reduces the reliability of the theory that hormones determine behaviour.
PMS as a medical condition is controversial. One psychologist claims that PMS is a social construction rather than a biological fact. Feminists claim that it is an example of medicalisation of the lives of women rather than explaining their emotions in biological terms. This suggests that there may have been an over-exaggeration of the impact of hormones on behaviour.
Overemphasis on nature. SLT points to social context in the learning of our gender identity and role, suggesting it is not considered when focusing on biology. The biological approach cannot explain cross-culture differences, for example western society is more androgynous but less so elsewhere. This suggests to much emphasis on nature in understanding sex and gender.