Gender Roles and Stereotypes

Gender Differences? Social Behavior and Personality

•      Aggression - MEN more physically aggressive, WOMEN show more guilt, empathize with victim, women can be as aggressive if feel justified or victim is anonymous, also use indirect aggression

•      Talking - WOMEN use tags more often, discuss personal feelings

•      Nonverbal - WOMEN look more at partner when listening than talking, MEN about equal, MEN more likely to touch, WOMEN be touched, WOMEN more attune to verbal and nonverbal expressions & feelings

•      MEN - casual sex (availability), WOMEN - sex with romantic relationship (long term)

•      Jealousy - MEN sexual, WOMEN emotional infidelity

•      Self-esteem - MEN value more unique characteristics and abilities, prefer competitive sit, WOMEN interdependence and connections with others (cooperation)

•      Viewing Abilities - WOMEN evaluate self more harshly, also less likely to judge self above average than others as compared to MEN

Gender Differences - Cognition

•      WOMEN excel in language, MEN in math, science, spatial

•      IQ tests show both MEN and WOMEN about equal in overall learning ability

•      Gender differences  - many of differences are small and declining

•      May reflect sociocultural influences (environment) - math and spatial stereotypically masculine - see no difference with math in elementary school, but do at high school level, also give WOMEN practice can get as good. Often WOMEN academically successful labeled as “hard workers”, MEN as “talented”




•      Gender identity - The sex one perceives oneself to be, sense of being male or female.

•      Biological influences

–  Chromosomal- X or Y from male

Hormonal – 7th week, Sry on Y chromosome, if not present or nonfunctioning, develop female genitals, present androgens develop male genitals CANNOT be complete hermaphrodite since many of the same prenatal tissue dev diff between girl & boy (ovaries/testes, labia & clitoris/penis)

Asexual – w/o any sexual organs


Development Gender Roles - Environ

•      Gender behaviors are learned  - observational learning, socialization (reward behavior)

–  ex. Pink and blue, different toys, different play

–  parents, tv, educational system.

•      Learned gender behavior  part of one’s schema (set of ideas about how MEN & WOMEN should act) - construct identity consistent with proper “script”


•      Between 2-3 acquire gender id (sense of male or female)

•      Between 4-5 gender stability (same sex for life)

•      Between 6-8 gender constancy (gender doesn’t change regardless of activities people engage in or clothes worn


Masters & Johnson’s Research

•      Recorded physiological changes that accompany sexual activity.

–  Vasocongestion - swelling of genital tissues w/ blood

–  Myotonia - muscle tension

•      Identified four phases in the sexual response cycle of both MEN and WOMEN.


Sexual Response Cycle

•      Excitement - arousing stimuli, prepare for sexual intercourse, MEN - erection, testes increase in size and become elevated, WOMEN - vagina lubricates, clitoris swells, both sexes - sex flush

•      Plateau - prepare for orgasm - breathing rate, blood pressure, heart rate increases (average erect penis 6”)

•      Orgasm - intense, highly pleasurable, rhythmic muscle contractions (.8 second) and discharge of sex tension - blood pushed out, MEN ejaculation different system than orgasm (spine vs. brain)

•      Resolution - body returns to normal state, MEN - refractory period (increases with age)


Different Sexual Behaviors

•      Fantasies - similar for MEN and WOMEN - imaginary or formal lover, other find you irresistible, MEN more spec visual imagery while WOMEN more emotional and romantic. Men have them more often. Don’t fantasize – more likely to have sexual dissatisfaction and sexual dysfunction

•      Masturbation - once thought to lead to mental and physical disorders (corn flakes)

–  94% MEN and 63% WOMEN at least once by mid 20’s

–  Single MEN 48% and WOMEN 28% once a week

–  MEN start earlier, most frequently in teen

–  married - 20-40 age - 75% MEN, 60% F 10x/yr

Number of partners – MEN report more than WOMEN (men round up, women down), majority less than 10

As we age – over 60 67% MEN & 61% WOMEN find sex very satisfactory, most have sex 1/month., 40% would like more often

•         Bar – closer to closing time, look for partner (no relationship to alcohol)


Premarital sex

•      Premarital sex - 1960 majority felt wrong, today 1/2 WOMEN and 80% MEN by 20, WOMEN less likely if going to college

•      MEN expect in relationship before WOMEN

•      African-Americans tend to have more permissive premarital standards than White, Mexican-Americans have more conservative standards


Sexual and Gender Id disorders

•      Considered abnormal when results in personal distress to self or others

•      Sexual Dysfunctions - inhibitions of sexual desire and interference w/ the physiological response

–  Frequently associated w/ interpersonal problems, can lead to anxiety, depression

–  No interest in sex, difficulty maintaining arousal, painful to have sex, premature ejaculation

•      Therapy communication training, sensate focus, education and cognitive restructuring


•      Paraphilias - arousal associated with atypical stimuli (classical conditioning)

•      nonhuman objects - fetishism, transvestic fetishism

•      suffering humiliation of oneself or partner - sexual masochism, sexual sadism

•      children/nonconsenting persons - exhibitionist, frotteurism, voyeurism, pedophilia


•      Transexualism - person feels that he or she is psychologically a member of the opposite sex.

•      Sex-change involves surgical intervention (sex reassignment surgery) and hormonal treatments.



Sexual Orientation

•      An individual’s sexual preference for same sex or opposite sex partners.

•      Homosexuality – sexual preference for members of same sex

•      Bisexuals  - Sex attracted to individuals of both sexes

–    Exclusively Homosexual in 2-10% (lower % in WOMEN)

–    17-25% report experiencing 1 homosexual experience.


Determinants of Sexual Orientation

•      Physiological factors

–    Brain differences - Part of the hypothalamus, anterior commissure

•      Heredity - Twin studies

–  Adopted  MZ twins more likely to both be homosexual than non-twin individual raised with homosexual sibling – feminizing genes?.

•      Cultural factors

–    Some cultures encourage homosexual activity at certain ages, but no single family or childhood experience appears to be a factor

Same sex parents do NOT lead to homosexuality (and do as well socially, cognitively, emotionally, and sexually as heterosexual families) – over 600,000 same sex families in U.S.



•         Historically – Kama Sutra (400 AD)

•         Greek and Roman decorated housewares and architecture with sex themes

•         Movable type (created 1450) – after printing bible, many printers began porn stories (credited w/ bringing literacy to the masses)

•         Photography – laws passed in mid 1800s to prohibit mailing of obscenity

•         Mid 1800s sexually explicit porn (“advice” literature)

•         1953 Playboy

•         1973 Deep Throat – “mainstream porn”

•         2001 759 million videos rented (1 in 5 rentals)

•         Internet – 234 million sites with word “sex”

•         Men choose websites with visual erotica, Women visit chat rooms, educate self on sex issues

•         While most sexual knowledge comes from peers, many obtain part of it from pornography (foreplay, sex anatomy, mechanics of sex, oral/anal)

•         Men and Women like similar porn – highly romantic and explicit

•         Studies have shown men like pornography in with men and women equal participants and appear to have good time

•         However, much pornography shows degrading or acts of violence, stresses Male performance and conquest over pleasure

•         Repeated exposure to pornography, Men and Women became less satisfied with physical appeal and sexual performance of partners, may lead to more accepting attitudes of rape and sexual violence