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Compare And Contrast Two Theories Of Gender Role Development

1505 words - 6 pages

Compare and contrast two theories of gender role development

A dominant debate in current psychological research is one on gender development. Psychologists try to understand relative importance of social and cognitive factors. Various theories are brought up in this field and in this essay two of the most standard theory in this field are going to be explained. The theories covered in this essay relate to aspects of children’s thinking that are central to their gender development. This will include, Kohlberg‘s theory of gender development (1966) and Bandura‘s theory of social cognitive development (1986). Theories like these help psychologists understand how and in which way children understand behaviour and which leads them to do so.
One theory of gender role development would be Kohlberg's theory of gender development (1966). His theory indicates that gender develops throughout different stages. Therefore, he predicts that children think about gender in characteristic ways in each stage. Going through the various stages children develop a more complex understanding of behaviour. The different stages are gender identity, gender stability and gender constancy.

Children reach the first stage, gender identity, in which they are supposed to label their own gender, by the age of approximately two years. Also, children tend to be able to label others, such as their parents as male or female. Nevertheless, their gender believes are still based on physical characteristics.
In the stage of gender stability children are able to indicate that a gender remains the same throughout time and therefore, children start to realise that they will be male or female for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, their understanding of gender is still influenced by external appearance, such as clothing or hair, and gender typical activities. When reaching this stage children are about four years old.
By reaching the third stage at about seven years, children supposedly understand that gender is not based on external features and influences anymore. Therefore, children have full appreciation of the fact that gender is stable over time and regardless the changes of context or physical appearance. In this theory gender is more seen as a state and various different factors.

Evidence for Kohlberg‘s theory is found in Piagets developmental theory. The understanding of consistency in gender is predicted at around the same age as in which Piaget suggested that children start to appreciate conservation, which means that an object and in this case a human being, still remains the same even when it‘s appearance changes.

Furthermore, Slaby and Frey conducted a research in which they asked young children what gender they used to be, they are and what gender they are going to be in the future. They identified that children did not realise that gender can not be changed and is stable over time.

On the other hand, Bandura explains in his social cognitive theory...

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