Compare And Contrast Two Theories Of Gender Role Development. Make Use Of Examples From The Psychological Research To Illustrate Your Discussion

1362 words - 5 pages

One of the most interesting aspects of young infants is the development of the sense of gender. Infants begin to understand gender from 18 months. They start to notice some distinguishable characteristics such as clothes or hair. The first gender concept they recognize is gender identity, which is simply labelling self and others as male or female. From the age of two, children realize that sex is something what we cannot change and it persist through our whole lives. People tend to misunderstand the term ‘gender’ with ‘sex’. Sex refers to biological state that differentiates organisms in two categories: male or female. We are born as males or females and there are many biological characteristics that differentiate us from each other, such as pairs of chromosomes or anatomy. On the other hand, gender is seen as socially determined difference based upon the biological differences between the sexes. It refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes associated with being male or female (Bee, 1995). In many societies being male or female brings many expectations such as wearing appropriate clothes, behaving or working in a manner that is either feminine or masculine. This essay will compare and contrast two theories of gender role development, psychoanalytic theory and social learning theory.
The first discussed theory of gender role development will be psychoanalytic theory proposed by Sigmund Freud (1905, 1925, 1931). Developed in 19th century psychoanalytic theory mostly put emphasis on gender and sexuality. Freud argued that our behaviour is motivated by instinctual drives, and divided consciousness into three layers: unconscious, preconscious and conscious. According to Freud, we are not aware of processes that are happening in unconscious. It contains our feelings, thoughts and memories of which we do not know, but they strongly influence our lives. Preconscious refers to dream state and recent experiences that are outside our attention but available if needed. The last one, conscious contains information, that we are paying attention to (Pervin & Cervone, 2011). In relation to gender role development, Freud postulated that infants are sexual beings and that through a series of psychosexual stages of development, are driven by biologically determined, sexual instincts. He termed these stages: oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage and genital stage. The oral stage refers to sensual gratification centred in mouth. It is revealed in sucking, eating, feeding and other mouth movements. By the end of first year, infants enter into anal stage, when they begin to be aware of bowel movements and, according to Freud; the children gain pleasure from sensation of excretory functions. From the age of four or five, in phallic stage, the development starts to differentiate for boys and girls. Phallic stage concerns the awareness of infants of possession of genitals. Young boys develop erection and realize, that girls do not have...

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