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Psychology applied to modern life adjustment in the 21st century, 11e chapter 11

Chapter 11
Gender and Behavior

Gender Stereotypes, continued

Gender – is “the state of being male or
female” (see Figure 11.1 for more terms).
Gender stereotypes – “are widely shared
beliefs about males’ and females’ abilities,
personality traits, and social behavior” (see
Figure 11.2).
Instrumentality – “an orientation toward
action and accomplishment” – refers to
masculine traits.
Expressiveness – “an orientation toward

emotion and relationships” – refers to
feminine traits.

Figure 11.1 Terminology related to gender. The topic of gender involves many closely related ideas that
are easily confused. The gender-related concepts introduced in this chapter are summarized here for easy

Figure 11.2 Traditional gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes are widely known and related to many
diverse aspects of psychological functioning. This is a partial list of the characteristics that college students
associate with a typical man and a typical woman. Gender stereotypes have remained remarkably stable in
spite of all the recent changes relating to gender issues in modern societies.
Adapted from Ruble, T.L. (1983). Sex stereotypes: Issues of change in the 70s. Sex Roles, 9, 397402. Copyright © 1983 Plenum Publishing Co. Adapted by permission of Kluwer Academic/Plenum
Publishers and the author.

Gender Stereotypes, continued
• With regard to gender stereotypes, it is
important to remember that
– There is much variability within gender
stereotypes, and they interact with race
and socioeconomic status.
– Boundaries between male and female
stereotypes have become less rigid.
– The traditional male stereotype is seen as
more complimentary. This is called
androcentrism – or “the belief that the
male is the norm” (see Figure 11.3).

Figure 11.3 Male bias on the job. In the world of work, women who exhibit traditional “masculine”
characteristics are often perceived negatively. Thus, a man and a woman may display essentially the same
behavior, but elicit very different reactions.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Meta-analysis – “combines the statistical
results of many studies of the same
questions, yielding an estimate of the size
and consistency of the variable’s effects”.
– The gender similarities hypothesis
suggests two things:
• Based on the meta-analyses, there are
more gender similarities than
• When there are differences, they are

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Cognitive abilities
– Although there are no gender differences
in overall intelligence, there are subtle
differences in specific cognitive abilities.
– Verbal abilities
• Girls start speaking sooner, have larger
vocabularies and better reading scores.
• Boys fare better on verbal analogies,
but are also more likely to stutter or
suffer from dyslexia.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Cognitive abilities, continued
– Mathematical abilities
• Males have a slight advantage in this area,
but this is only true for European-American
• In mathematical problem-solving, males
outperform females by high school and
take more higher math courses.
• Males also outperform females at the high
end of the mathematical ability distribution.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Cognitive abilities, continued
– Spatial abilities
• The largest gender difference in cognitive
abilities is in spatial abilities, or the ability
to perceive and mentally manipulate
shapes and figures (see Figure 11.4).

Figure 11.4 Mental rotation test. If you mentally rotate the figure on the left, which of the five figures on
the right would match it? The answer is “d”. This problem illustrates how spatial rotation skills are measured.
Researchers have uncovered some interesting gender differences in the ability to mentally rotate figures in
Adapted from Shepard, R.N. & Metzler, J.N. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects.
Science, 171, 701-703. Copyright © 1971 by American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Adapted by permission of the publisher and author.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Personality traits and social behavior
– Self-esteem
• Females usually score lower than males
on measures of self-esteem.
• However, socioeconomic status and race
complicates this issue.
– There are larger gender differences in
lower and middle income levels.
– Findings also interact with ethnicity.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Personality traits and social behavior, continued
– Aggression – is “behavior that is intended to
hurt someone, whether physically or verbally”.
• Males are consistently more likely to
– Engage in physical aggression.
– Be arrested for violent crimes (see
Figure 11.6).

Figure 11.6 Gender Differences in violent crimes. Males are arrested for violent crimes far more often
than females, as these statistics show. These data support the findings of laboratory studies indicating that
males are more physically aggressive than females. (Data from U.S. Department of Justice, 2006)

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Personality traits and social behavior, continued
– Aggression, continued
• Females are more likely to use
– Relational aggression - behaviors that
hurt another’s feelings (e.g., insulting
someone’s opinions), or
– Indirect aggression – behaviors that
do not involve confronting the target
directly (e.g., spreading rumors behind
someone’s back).

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Personality traits and social behavior, continued
– Sexual attitudes and behavior
• Men and women are similar in that they
– Are somewhat negative toward sexual
– Are more accepting of casual sex if they
had earlier sexual activity, have had
more sexual partners, or have sex more

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Personality traits and social behavior, continued
– Sexual attitudes and behavior, continued
• Differences (for both gay and straight), are
1. Men have more interest in sex.
2. The connection between sex and
intimacy is more important to women.
3. Aggression is more often linked to
sexuality for men than it is for women.
4. Women’s sexuality is more easily
shaped by cultural and situational

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued
Personality traits and social behavior, continued
– Emotional expression
• Women are more likely to express
emotion, but women and men experience
emotions equally.
– Communication
• Contrary to stereotype, men talk and
interrupt more than do women.
• Women speak more tentatively.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Psychological disorders
– Antisocial behavior, alcoholism, and
substance abuse disorders are more
common in men.
– Women are more likely to suffer from
depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
– Females attempt suicide more often, but
males have more completed suicides.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Putting gender differences in perspective
– Group differences do not tell us about
individuals, and the differences are quite
small (see Figure 11.7).
– Similarities typically outweigh the differences.
– Gender accounts for a small proportion of the
differences between individuals.
– When gender differences are found, they do
not mean that one gender is better than

Figure 11.7 The nature of group differences. Gender differences are group differences that tell us little
about individuals because of the great overlap between the groups. For a given trait, one gender may score
higher on the average, but there is far more variation within each gender than between the genders.

Gender Similarities and Differences, continued

Differences in perspective, continued
– Differences seem larger, according to social
role theory, because they are exaggerated
in our culture.
– Differences also seem larger, according to
social constructionism theory, because we
construct our own realities in accordance with
societal expectations.

Biological Origins, continued

Evolutionary explanations
– Gender differences are found in many
– Evolutionary psychologists argue these
differences come from a time in which
different demands were placed on males and
females for survival.
• (e.g., aggression was favored in males
who needed it to hunt.)
• (e.g., nurturing behavior was favored in
females who needed to raise children.)

Biological Origins, continued

Brain organization
– The cerebral hemispheres – are “the right
and left halves of the cerebrum, which is the
convoluted outer layer of the brain”.
– The left hemisphere is more active in verbal
and mathematical processes, whereas the
right hemisphere specializes in visual-spatial
skills and other non-verbal processes.

Biological Origins, continued
Brain organization, continued
– Males have more cerebral specialization than
females. Thus, they depend more heavily on
the right hemisphere for visual-spatial tasks,
and on the left hemisphere for verbal tasks.
– Females have a larger corpus callosum,
which allows greater communication between
hemispheres when completing similar tasks.
– However, these differences are small. There
are more similarities than differences
between male and female brains.

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