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Does culture construct gender roles? Or do gender roles merely reflect men’s and women’s natural behavior tendencies?

Short answer


Chapter 5


Understand how nature (genes) influences our behavior

Understand how nurture (experiences) influences our behavior

Understand the role culture plays on our behavior

Discuss how gender develops

Articulate how nature and nurture interact in our lives

Behavior Genetics (NATURE)


Do genes make us different?

Sure, but they also make us the same.

Our DNA are 99.9 % the same – we are all family!

Genetic predispositions

Environment can “turn on” genes making them active (expressed)

Behavior genetics

Twin Studies

Identical twins reared separately are remarkably alike

Adoption Studies

People who grow up together, biologically related or not, don’t resemble one another in personality too much

These findings favor nature over nurture.

Discussion: Are we constrained by our genes?

What role does parenting/teaching/coaching now play if we are mainly determined by our genes?

Gene-environment interaction

Our predisposed genes react to the environment – environments trigger gene activity

People with identical genes but differing experiences have similar, but not identical minds

Genes have the potential to influence development, but environmental triggers can switch them on or off (epigenetics)

Nature via nurture


Parental influence

Peer influence

Cultural influence

Cultural influences

Culture – enduring behaviors, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next

Norms vary across cultures

Cultures evolve over time

Norms – rules for accepted and expected behavior


Cultural influence

Individualism and Collectivism – Review

Individualism – giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications

Collectivism – giving priority to the goals of one’s group (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly

Cultural influence

Concept Individualism Collectivism
Self Independent (identity from individual traits) Interdependent (identity from belonging)
Life task Discover and express one’s uniqueness Maintain connections, fit in, perform role
What matters Me—personal achievement and fulfillment; rights and liberties; self-esteem Us—group goals and solidarity; social responsibilities and relationships; family duty
Coping method Change reality Accommodate to reality (conformity)
Morality Defined by individuals (self-based) Define by social networks (duty-based)
Relationships Many, often temporary or casual; confrontation acceptable Few, close and enduring; harmony valued
Attributing behavior Behavior reflects one’s personality and attitudes Behavior reflects social norms and roles

Cultural influence

Notes on Individualism and Collectivism

Each country’s “individualism” or “collectivism” will differ from another country’s “individualism” or “collectivism”

There is diversity within cultures

People in individualistic countries may have collectivist values or groups

Collectivism doesn’t mean connectedness/social harmony with all people—only to our ingroup; it emphasizes harmony within the groups with which one is attached to (family, company, etc.)

One is not better than the other. Both have strengths and weaknesses.

Gender development

The Nature of Gender: Our Biology

Gender differences can often be explained by our differing sex chromosomes and differing concentrations of sex hormones

The Y chromosome

Direct vs indirect effect of sex hormones

Gender development

The Nurture of Gender: Our Culture

What are some gender roles in our culture?


Does culture construct these gender roles? Or do gender roles merely reflect men’s and women’s natural behavior tendencies?

Social learning theory

How have you seen gender roles change in your lifetime?

What will happen to gender differences as role assignments become more equal?

What does this mean for us?

Social learning theory – we learn social behavior and gender identity by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished


Chapter 5 Audio Lecture Part 1

Chapter 5 Audio Lecture Part 2

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