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Gender Schema Theory Notes

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Gender Schema Theory

Bem 1981 and Martin and Halverson 1987 addressed main problem of Kohlberg's theory, that sex-typed behaviour emerges before children understand gender consistency, including elements of SLT Children are pre-programmed to organise information in terms of schemas, such as gender schemas consist of set of beliefs about sexes Unlike Kohlberg, they propose that schemas are formed as soon as children have basic gender identity from age 2 Uses information-processing approach to explain influence of gender schemas - once gender schemas are formed, information children receive about gender roles is used to understand the world Children's gender schemas determine what they attend to, how they interpret the world and what experiences they remember First formed schema is an in-group/out-group schema, consisting of organised information about toys and activities are suitable for girls and boys Own-gender schema contains information about how to behave in gender-stereotyped ways e.g. dress dolls for a girl Martin, Wood and Little 1990 investigated how gender schemas develop in children o Children learn what type of things are associated with each sex e.g. boys have short hair o Children link gender items together and draw inferences based on cultural view of sex-appropriate behaviour e.g. if a person has long hair, she probably wears dresses and plays with dolls - but inferences are mainly made only about their own sex - 4 to 6 years o 8 years upwards, children can make inferences about opposite sex - a girl is more likely to offer a train set to a boy than a doll, and may assume he'd rather do things with his father than his mother Schemas can lead to stereotyping - don't allow people to be different to what you expect Assumptions about gender - appropriate behaviour depends on schemas e.g. girls don't play with trains, they play with dolls - hard schemas limit what you think you can do as a male or female - stereotyping Suggests we filter out behaviour which doesn't fit in with schemas - gender-appropriate behaviour

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