Theories of Gender Development


n   Psychodynamic approach to personality

n   Social Learning Theory

n   Cognitive Developmental Theory

n   Gender Schema Theory

Topics of Discussion

n   Sigmund Freud

n   Karen Horney

n   Nancy Chodorow

n   Ellyn Kaschak

n   Lawrence Kohlberg

n   Sandra Bem

Sigmund Freud

n   Unconscious Ė cornerstone of Freudian theory

n   Identification-basis of gender role acquisition

n   Psychosexual stages

n   Phallic stage: Oedipus & Electra Complex

Seduction Theory

n    sexual activity between parent & child=>adult psychological problems

n    Freud later rejected this

n    attraction between children & opposite-sex parent is part of the childrenís fantasy, having no basis in reality

n    Portrayed patients in negative ways:

u  patients canít distinguish fantasy from reality

u  children are the ones who wish this seduction

Karen Horney

n   importance of social, rather than instinctual/biological forces

n   penis envy=longing for social prestige & position of men

n   womb envy=menís envy of womenís capability to reproduce

n   examined cultural & social factors

Nancy Chodorow

n   focus on pre-Oedipal period: identification with mother

n   girls have an easier task in developing a sense of self

n   to become masculine, boys must reject the femininity of their mothers=more difficult=>fear/mistrust of women

Ellyn Kaschak

n   social structure perpetuates differential power & roles for men & women

n   Men come to consider women their possessions & have a sense of entitlement

n   women who resolve the Antigone phase=>independent

Gender Role:

n    A set of socially significant activities associated with being male or female

Learning Theory

n   change in behavior is the result of experience/practice

n   reinforcement-increases the probability that a behavior will recur

n   punishment-decreases the probability

Social Learning Theory

n   gender development=learned behaviors

n   nurture rather than nature

n   reinforcement, punishment & cognitive processes


n   observation is more important than reinforcement

n   learning is cognitive, performance is behavioral

n   children more influenced by powerful/similar models

Cognitive Developmental

n    gender identity is part of childrenís general cognitive development

n    2/3: start to develop the ability to gender label

n    gender labeling: consistently applying the words boy/girl to self/others

n    gender identity: process of identifying oneself as female/male

n    gender constancy:knowledge that gender is a permanent characteristic

Gender Schema Theory

n   schema: cognitive structure/network of associations that organizes/guides perceptions

n   culture provides a reference for the formation of gender schemata

n   better accuracy/memory for gender-consistent information

Gender Script theory

n   extension of gender schema theory

n   social knowledge that children acquire concerning gender is organized in a sequence of events

u Getting ready to go out: different sequence of events for men & women