Gender Schema Theory

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Female Pages: 2 (789 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Gender schema theory
Martin and Halverson suggested an alternative to the cognitive-developmental approach proposed by Kohlberg and called it the gender schema theory. In Kohlberg’s theory, children must reach gender consistency before they are able to begin imitating the behaviour of same sex role models. In gender schema theory the early gender identity acquired at about the age of three is the starting point to which children will then begin to look for schemas, schemas are packages of organised clutters of information about gender-appropriate behaviour and children learn these schemas by interacting with people, such as learning which toys to play with, which clothes to wear etc. and these help children to make sense of the world around them and help children to organise their experiences and process new information and also to help self-evaluate themselves, this is to help them feel good about themselves. Support for the gender schema theory was conducted by Martin et al 1995 who showed toys to children aged four to five. Children were informed, before choosing a toy to play with that it was either a girls toy or a boys toy, they were then asked whether they and other boys or girls would like to play with the toys. They found that if a toy, such as a magnet, was given the label of being a boys toy then only boys would play with it. However if boys were told that it was a girl toy then they didn’t want to play with it. Similarly girls would not play with toys labelled for boys. The label given at the start consistently affected the children’s toy preference. It is an important finding in that it highlights the labelling and the categorisation of objects that children are subjected to from a young age, and how their toys can be labelled in the same way as appropriate gender behaviour. A limitation of this research is that an observation of the children and although it has high ecological validity as it is in a real life setting, the children may have...
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