Draft Gender Schema Theory
Psychological explanations of gender development “Discuss gender schema theory’ (8+16 marks)” The Gender schema theory developed by Martin and Halverson (1 981 ) explains gender development In terms of schemas which are organized clusters of Information regarding gender appropriate behaviors. Such schemas provide a basis for Interpreting the environment and selecting appropriate forms of behavior, and thus children’s self-perceptions become sex typed.
Specifically, children form in group and out group schemas. In group schemas are formed concerning ones attitudes and expectations about one’s own gender, and out group schemas about the other gender. Alternatively, children tend to focus on in group schemas and avoid behaviors that belong to out group schemas hence, leading to a preference for same sex playmates and gender stereotyped activities. However, gender schema undergoes change as a result of the development of general cognitive abilities in children.
For example, pre-schooled have a basic understanding of what activities and behavior go with each gender by observing other children, whilst 4-6 year olds earn subtle and complex sets of associations for their own gender In terms of, what Like favor and disastrous, how they verbally Interact and how they play. However, It Is not until the ages of 8 to 10 that children develop a complex schema for the opposite sex and gender schemas gradually become flexible in late childhood and adolescence.
This explains why teenagers abandon the assumption that what their own gender does is preferable. This theory is supported by Martin and Little (1990) who found that preschool children have gender stereotypes about what is appropriate for boys and girls, before they develop much understanding about gender. This supports the gender schema theory because, It shows that children acquire information about gender roles hence, is in line with Kohlrabies gender schema theory.
This Is further supported by Campbell (2000) who tested Infants aged between 3 and 18 months, finding that even the youngest ones had a preference for watching same-sex babies. This shows that children from an early age pay more attention to their same sex group, supporting the Idea of gender schemas forming early on. Furthermore, research conducted by Martin and Halverson (1983) also supports gender schema theory as; they found that when children were asked to recall pictures of people, children under the age of 6 recalled more gender consistent ones.
For example, a female teacher and a male fire fighter than gender inconsistent ones such as a male nurse. This supports gender schema theory because it shows that children form in group schemas hence, it is in line with gender schema theory predictions. Additionally, research conducted by Poplin-Dubos et al (2002) supports the gender schema theory. 2 to 3 year olds were asked to choose a doll to carry out stereotypical male or female Jobs. It was found that 2 year old girls could distinguish the gender appropriate doll, suggesting a schema for gender appropriate tasks.
This implies that young children learn from models on the basis of their own sex. Alternatively, a Limitation of the gender schema theory Is that It Is regarded as reductionism. This is an issue because although it offers a plausible compromise neglects the influence of biological factors, assuming that all gender oriented behavior is created through cognitive means. Furthermore, a limitation of the gender schema theory is that it only focuses on anything that confirms and trenches their schemas, ignoring behavioral examples that contradict the theory.
Furthermore, the gender schema theory predicts that as a gender schema theory develops, a child should exhibit behavior consistent with perception of its own gender. Some research shows this but there is contradictory research such as, Campbell et al (2000) who found that 2 year old boys and girls who possessed high levels of gender knowledge did not display preferences to play with gender specific toys. This shows that not all children high in gender knowledge will play with gender specific toys.