Describe the Development of Gender as Explained by the Biological Approach and Compare It to the Psychodynamic and Learning Explanation of Gender Development

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  • Topic: Gender, Male, Sex
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  • Published : April 29, 2013
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Describe the development of gender as explained by the biological approach and compare it to the psychodynamic and learning explanation of gender development (12 Marks)

The Biological approach states that gender development arises from biological processes. Gender differences are seen as resulting from sex differences. In other words, women and men act, think and feel differently because of differences in how their brains work. These brain differences result from chromosomal differences and hormonal differences. Women and men are chromosomally different. Women have two X chromosomes (XX), whereas men have an X and a Y chromosome (XY). In the period following conception, female and male embryos are indistinguishable apart from their chromosomes. However, the Y chromosome in males starts to promote the production of testosterone and other androgens (male sex hormones). These androgens cause the male to develop testes and a penis instead of ovaries and a uterus. The androgens also cause the male brain to develop differently from the female. A biopsychologist would argue that it is these differences in brain development, and the differences in brain activity caused by the secretion of androgens in adulthood, that cause men to behave differently from women (e.g. acting more aggressively). Women and men produce different sex hormones in varying quantities. Besides affecting the functioning of various bodily organs (e.g. causing the menstrual cycle in women) these sex hormones appear to have an effect on behaviour. Testosterone, which is produced in greater quantities by men, affects several types of behaviour, some of which are regarded as ‘typically male’. For example, Dabbs et al (1995) found that violent offenders had higher testosterone levels than non-violent offenders and Coates et al (2008) found that financial traders with higher testosterone levels took greater risks. Women have higher levels of oxytocin than men. Some researchers have linked this to...
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