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Gender Development - Biological Approach

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Steve Mynard

on 5 February 2013

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Transcript of Gender Development - Biological Approach

Approach Klinefelter's
Syndrome Innately different Hormones The pattern for gender development is determined at conception by the chromosomes Evaluation The biological explanation of gender development focuses on the biology behind gender
Sex and gender are seen as related
Humans have evolved so that males and females posses different chromosomes that trigger the production of different levels of certain hormones
These hormonal differences lead to different behaviours
This allows males and females to perform different roles in reproduction
This ensures the survival of their genes and of the species Individual has XXY chromosomes and is anatomically male
This shows the importance of the Y chromosome is triggering formation of male structures
Frequency = 1 in 500 births
The sex identity is male
Physical characteristics - undescended testicles and undersized penis, some breast development at puberty and rounding of body contours, little body hair, long limbs and clumsy
Psychological characteristics - lack of interest in sexual activity, tend to be passive, shy and lacking in ambition, poor language skills, poor reading ability, poor judgement and handle stress badly, higher than normal level of gender identity confusion
Klinefelter's Syndrome strongly suggests that there is an association between chromosomes and gender development The biological approach has been criticised for being deterministic and
reductionist and ignoring the effects of culture and socialisation Social Learning Theory would dispute the fact that gender is a product of nature. As men and women are biologically similar why do they behave differently? SLT would say this is due to socialization and expectation. Cognitive theory would argue that the biological approach is reductionist in trying to explain complex behaviours in terms of chromosomes and hormones.

Cognitive approach would argue that thought processes play an important part in gender development The psychodynamic approach would agree with the innate element of gender development and would also emphasise the importance of childhood experiences.

The psychodynamic approach would object to the idea that gender develops in isolation from society Chromosomes Turner's
Syndrome Chromosome pattern is XO
Frequency = 1 in 2000 births
Individuals with Turner's Syndrome identify themselves as female
Typically have similar interests and behaviours to biologically normal females
Physical characteristics - no ovaries, no menstruation and sterile, no breasts, short stature, webbed neck and low set ears
Psychological characteristics - higher than average verbal ability , lower than average spatial ability, visual ability and maths skills and difficulties relating to peers
Turner's Syndrome suggests that gender identity can develop in the absence of ovaries and the oestrogen they produce Each cell int he human body has 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs
22 pairs are matched and are the same in males and females
The 23rd pair differs between the sexes
XX for female
XY for male
If sperm carries X chromosome the baby will be female
If sperm carries Y chromosome the baby will be male
During the first weeks after conception the male and female embryos appear the same
At six weeks the sex organs (gonads) develop differently
A gene in the Y chromosome triggers the events that transform the male embryo gonads into testes
In the absence of this gene the gonads automatically turn into ovaries
Once the testes and ovaries have developed they release their own sex hormones
Male sex hormones are called androgens
Female sex organs are called oestrogens Sex hormones have an effect on the pre-natal development of the brain
Male and female foetuses produce different amounts of certain hormones
This could imply that male and female brains develop differently
Research shows that there are key structural differences between the sexes
In the hypothalamus two specific structures (the BST and the SDN-POA) are larger in adult heterosexual males than adult heterosexual females
This seems to be related with coyness in females and promiscuity in males
The cerebral hemispheres also have sex differences in structure
This could explain superior fine motor skills and language in females and superior visual-spatial and mathematical skills in males
Hormones are produced throughout life and may continue to have an effect on male/female behaviour
Boys experience a surge of testosterone around the age of four and this may account for them being noticeably more active and boisterous than girls at this age
Key studies: Van Goozen et al. (1995) and Slabberkoorn et al. (1999) The evidence provided by the biological approach is often questioned as a lot of research is carried out on animals and may not apply to humans
Often the humans studied are unusual examples
Atypical gender development is not always related to atypical chromosome or hormone activity
In recent generations people have become more androgenous, yet chromosomes and hormones are the same as our ancestors
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