Discuss the nature and nurture (and their interaction) of gender development

Chapter 5

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality





Discuss the nature and nurture (and their interaction) of gender development

Understand different aspects of human sexuality – the physiology and psychology of sex, the sexual response cycle, common misconceptions, diff b/w males and females, sexual dysfunctions, STIs, and sexual orientation

Comprehend the importance of the relationship in sex





Sex – the biologically influenced characteristics by which people define males and females

Gender – the socially influenced characteristics by which people define men and women


“sex is what’s in between the legs; gender is what’s in between the head”


Gender Development



ACTIVITY & Discussion Handout 9: Gender Traits



Which traits do you think are more often linked with men, women, or both? You can include traits that are not on the handout and even include traits that you have heard but may disagree with.

Are there a lot of differences in traits between the genders? Are there more differences than similarities?

What do you think explains the similarities/differences? Why do we have cultural universals in beliefs about the personality characteristics of men and women? For example, you can talk about nature or nurture.


Biology does not dictate gender, but influences gender in 2 ways

Genetically – males and females have differing sex chromosomes

Physiologically – males and females have differing concentrations of sex hormones, which trigger other anatomical differences


The NATURE of Gender: Our Biological Sex



Prenatal Sexual Development

7 weeks after conception, your sex is distinguishable

From mom you get an X chromosome and from Dad either an X or a Y.

The Y chromosome has a gene that triggers the testes to develop and produce testosterone (the principal male hormone that promotes development of male sex organs)

This hormone bathes the fetal brain and influences its wiring

this helps explain why male and female brains are different

The NATURE of Gender: Our Biological Sex



Adolescent Sexual Development

Puberty – 2-yr period of sexual maturation when a person becomes capable of reproducing

Puberty leads to the development of primary (reproductive organs and external genitalia) and secondary (non-reproductive sexual traits) sex characteristics that contribute to an even larger difference between males and females


The NATURE of Gender: Our Biological Sex



“Biology draws the outline, and culture paints the details.” p.177

The physical traits that define us as biological males or females are the same worldwide, but the gender traits that define how men/boys and women/girls should act, interact, or feel about themselves may differ from one place to another.

The effect of exposure to sex hormones is direct (biological appearance) and indirect (influence of social experiences that shape people)

Because you look like a boy/girl, you are treated like a boy/girl



The NURTURE of Gender: Our Culture and Experiences



Gender roles

def – a set of expected behaviors, attitudes, and traits for males or females



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

The NURTURE of Gender: Our Culture and Experiences



How do we learn gender?

Gender identity – our sense of being male, female, or some combination of the two.

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


The NURTURE of Gender: Our Culture and Experiences



Gender typing – the acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine role

Gender schemas – concepts about gender that help us make sense of our world; help us think about our gender identity

Transgender – an umbrella term describing people whose gender identity or expression differs from that associated with their birth sex


Note: gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation (the direction of one’s sexual attraction)


Terms related to gender



asexual – having no sexual attraction to others

The Physiology of Sex

Hormones and Sexual Behavior

Male – testosterone

Female – estrogens (i.e., estradiol)

Hormones (biology) are needed for there to be sexual drive, but psychological stimuli are also needed



Human Sexuality



The Sexual Response Cycle

Masters & Johnson (1966)

Requires intact neurological, endocrine, vascular, and psychological systems

Problems in these areas cause problems in the sexual response





refractory period – resting period after orgasm (few minutes to a day or more), during which a man cannot achieve another orgasm


Human Sexuality: The Physiology of Sex



Sexual Response Cycle



Sexual Response Cycle



A – Multiple orgasm

B – Anorgasmic

C- Rapid orgasm (no plateau)


Sex is physical/biological and/or psychological

You can achieve full sexual response strictly psychologically without physical stimulation

You can achieve full sexual response purely biologically

Excitement/arousal is parasympathetic

Fear/anxiety is sympathetic and cuts off arousal

Orgasm is sympathetic



Human Sexuality: The Physiology of Sex



Aspect Males Females
Peak of Sensitivity
Sensual Interest
Intensity on 0-100 scale
Intensity area

Human Sexuality: The Physiology of Sex



Sexual Dysfunctions – problems that consistently impair sexual arousal or functioning

sexual motivation, lack of energy and arousability


erectile dysfunction (ED)

premature ejaculation



female orgasmic disorder – distress due to infrequently or never experiencing orgasm




Human Sexuality: The Physiology of Sex



Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

1 million ppl worldwide acquire an STI a day

Be smart! Use condoms!!!

Significantly reduce chance of bacterial STIs

80% effective in preventing transmission of HIV

If you don’t use condoms, you always have a risk unless neither partner has ever had sex before.

Risk increases with the number of sexual partners





Human Sexuality: The Physiology of Sex



Exposure to sexually explicit material can have adverse effects

Rape acceptance

Devaluing partner

Diminished satisfaction

Socio-cultural factors such as religious/family values and expectations also affect sexual motivation and behavior


Human Sexuality: The Psychology of Sex



Teen Pregnancy


Minimal communication about birth control

Guilt related to sexual activity

Alcohol use

Mass media norms of unprotected promiscuity

Social script – culturally modeled guide for how to act in various situations

Ways to reduce it


Information about sexuality, reproduction, and contraception



Human Sexuality: The Psychology of Sex



def – an enduring sexual attraction toward members of one’s own sex (homosexual orientation), the other sex (heterosexual), or both sexes (bisexual)

Orientation is generally seen as a continuum ranging from exclusive male-female relations to exclusive same-sex relations (not either/or)

There are millions of sexual orientations

3-4% of men and 2% of women are homosexual; 3.4% LGBT; 1% bisexual

Homosexuality used to be considered a disorder in the DSM, but now psychologists recognize that sexual orientation is not something we choose and cannot change

There seems to be no environmental factors that influence orientation, but other research suggests:

Orientation is likely determined by a combo of genetic, hormonal, cognitive, and environmental factors


Sexual Orientation



Greater relationship satisfaction and stability and better sex occurs when partners have developed a deep commitment first

“Sex at its human best is life uniting and love renewing.” –p.196


Social Influences on Human Sexuality

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