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Kohlberg's Cognitive Development Theory Notes

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Kohlberg's Cognitive Development Theory

Argued children need to gain understanding of gender identity before imitating same-sex models - sense of gender identity makes copying sex-appropriate behaviour rewarding - contradicts SLT where children copy same-sex models then develop gender identity Proposed children go through stages in development of gender identity: o Basic gender identity - 2 to 3 ½ years - boys label themselves as boys and girls as girls - however, they believe it's possible to change sex o Gender stability - 3 ½ to 4 ½ years - awareness that sex is stable over time e.g. boys become men - less aware that sex remains stable across different situations e.g. wearing clothes of opposite sex - McConaghy 1979 found when doll was dressed in transparent clothes so there was a discrepancy between clothes and genitals, children decided on basis of clothing - judge gender on physical signs e.g. hair and clothes o Gender constancy - 4 ½ to 7 years - children realise sex remains same over time and situations Children cannot be expected to show sex-typed behaviour until they have necessary mental structures to understand gender - most important aspect is understanding gender is constant, so it's not until children know they are male or female forever, will they consistently act in a sex-typed way - children must have knowledge about gender before social experiences, e.g. role mother and father play, have influence on them Based theory on Piaget's idea that children automatically classify information from environment into social categories - gender category is filled with appearance, clothes, activities, personality - do not require teaching by adults (contrast with SLT) - children actively seek out same-sex models and information to learn how to act like a boy or girl - self-socialisation does not start under gender consistency stage


Monroe et al 1984 cross cultural study found children had same sequences of stages to full gender identity

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