Describe And Evaluate The Gender Schema Theory Of Gender Development

1068 words - 5 pages

Describe and evaluate the gender schema theory of gender development.

Martin and Halverson believe that gender identity is gained around the age two-three. They also stated that when children realise that they are either a boy or girl they split themselves into two groups, their gender group being the ‘in-group’ and the opposite sex group is the ‘out-group’. The children then actively seek out how members of their group should behave (toys, games, activities) and ignore those that do not relate to their group, for example a young boy would completely ignore a girl’s toy and may avoid anything perceived to be ‘girly’. This leads them to form schemas and their environment, peers and ...view middle of the document...

This study shows that babies develop schemas before they even start to speak, not when they are two or three. It proves that schemas drive attention and that young children pay more attention to the group that they belong to. This ‘sense of belonging’ also seems to be stronger within boys than girls. This enlightens the fact there are gender differences within the development of gender identity and therefore cannot be generalised between males and females. However since gender schema theory requires categorization of males and females into two different and separate groups, stereotyping is destined to occur. The stereotyping leads to over generalizations about the behaviours and practices within a gender.

Another study by Campbell (2004) was his longitudinal study of 56 children who were studied at 27 months and again at 39 months who were studies in their own homes. The children were shown a photo album and asked to point to the girls or boys toys, and the girls or boys activities. The children were then given the toys that were in the pictures to play with for thirty minutes. They found that over 50% of the 2 year olds completed the gender labelling task and that only 20% of them completed the boys and girls toys task. When the task was done again a year later when the children were three, the findings showed that over 90% of the 3 year olds completed the gender labelling task and that 50% completed the boys and girls toys tasks. These findings present such a rapid jump in understanding and the development of gender identity between the ages of two and three. This study therefore backs up Martin and Halverson’s theory of gender development. This study is also extremely ethical and seems to have not had many methodological issues; the study took place at the child’s home and therefore little stress was experienced on the child’s behalf. This point could also have increased the reliability of the study due to the fact that the child was relaxed and therefore would have been more likely to concentrate. Campbell also used a range of methods providing the study to contain rich and detailed data, both of these points increasing the validity...

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