Gender Consistency Theory and Gender Schema Theory

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COMPARE AND CONTRAST GENDER CONSISTENCY THEORY AND GENDER SCHEMA THEORY Any cognitive developmental theory is based on the idea that children have to have reached a certain level of cognitive development before they can appreciate certain concepts, such as what it means to be a boy or girl, and the full implications of this. The gender consistency theory proposed by Kohlberg in 1966 and the gender schema theory proposed by Martin and Halverson in 1983 are the two major gender development theories considered by psychologists. Kohlberg’s theory was considered the dominant theory up until the 1970s and it was believed that biology heavily affected gender development. However there were many disputes over some elements of the theory, which lead to further theories such as the gender schema theory being developed. The major difference between the two is that the gender consistency theory proposes that children’s understanding of gender develops with age, whilst the gender schema theory suggests that early childhood gender development is influenced heavily by the ideas and concepts about what ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ means in a particular society. According to the gender consistency theory, children go through three stages in the development of full gender identity starting from the age of 2 years old. Between 2 and 3.5 years children enter the gender identity stage, where they label themselves at present as a boy or girl Recognition of this then allows a better understanding and categorisation of the world. Through this stage children sometimes use incorrect labels for people, they also fail to recognise gender staying the same in the past or future e.g. they may believe that a person can change gender. Children gain this gender identity before they start to pay attention to and copy same sex models. Although the gender schema theory is similar to this because it
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