Development of the gender roles is one of the most fundamental aspects of development. Children develop gender roles under the influence of a range of factors in their environment. Such factors include but are not limited to culture, parental guidance, media, and literature. In addition, there are a lot of biological factors that make a child adopt the role of his/her gender. The main approaches toward the development of gender roles include cognitive, biological, and sociocultural.
Kohlberg used the work of Piaget on cognitive development to explain the development of understanding of gender among children. The main things children need to understand is that gender, like a range of other physical attributes of the environment, does not change with the passage of time. The gender identity of children is tentative in the start, but with the passage of time becomes more stable while they develop gender constancy. The development of gender-role commences then (Cardwell and Flanagan 152).
Cognitive psychologists place emphasis on the function of the thinking processes while explaining the development of gender roles and gender identity. They consider the way of development and interpretation of the information regarding gender in the children and their understanding of changes in gender with time. Changes in the gender role behavior indicate changes in the way gender is perceived by the children. In Kohlberg’s theory, maturation primarily drives gender development. Children start processing information regarding gender after reaching gender constancy. Cognitive psychologists use schema to organize information related to a person. People match new information to old schemas to make sense of it.
Biological psychology attributes the development of gender role and identity to the biological processes occurring in the body. In this perspective, gender differences are the consequences of differences of sex. Men and women feel, think, and act in different ways because of the differences of ways in which their brains work. These differences are the result of differences of chromosomes and hormones.
The quantities of production of sex hormones vary between men and women. In addition to affecting various bodily organs’ functioning, sex hormones also affect human behavior. For example, testosterone boosts behaviors typically associated with men because it is produced in men in greater quantities than in women. Similarly, production of oxytocin in greater quantities in women makes them more sociable than men.
The sociocultural approach to the development of gender roles is quite flexible and subject to changes with the development and advancement of technology. In the past, men assumed the responsibility of working outside and earning whereas women resolved to their domestic roles of cooking and washing. With the growth of literacy and advancement of technology, gender roles have changed and boundaries have merged. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find a male cook with a wife who is a lawyer.
Concluding, cognitive, biological, and sociocultural approaches explain gender role development differently. Together, the three approaches present a holistic explanation of the development of gender roles. Each of the three approaches plays a role in the development of gender identity and perceptions.
Cardwell, Mike, and Flanagan, Cara. Psychology A2: The Complete Companion. Nelson
Thornes, 2003. Print.