Outline Social Factors That May Influence Gender (8 Marks)

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Outline social factors that may influence gender roles. (8 marks) Bandura’s social learning theory suggests gender roles are learnt through observation of ‘social agents’ such as parents, peers and teachers as well as the media. This theory is based on the principles of operant conditioning with children being rewarded for behaving in their own gender and being punished for behaving inappropriately. An example of this is if a young boy is playing with dolls, he may be told off and explained to that it is wrong, likewise, a girl playing with cars and guns will told of or shouted at in the same way. Social agents model the appropriate gender specific behaviours; children observe these behaviours and learn the consequences for behaving inappropriately through vicarious reinforcement. Parents or peers may also directly explain to children what behaviour is deemed appropriate or inappropriate; they are also likely to treat boys and girls differently due to their gender. An example of this is that boys and girls are given different toys to play with. Children are also exposed to peers as they grow up, their social circle may expand which means they may learn from other models. Peers are likely to be brought up in the same way which will reinforce the appropriate behaviour through social interactions. The media may also influence gender roles through television, books, films and toys. Males are usually portrayed as strong, independent and usually have interests in sports to show their competitiveness and/or aggressiveness. Women are sometimes portrayed as dependant on others and extremely emotional. Men are also shown as more dominant while women are more submissive. This will lead to individuals behaving in these ways in order to impress people as they look up to celebrities and try to imitate them. Research has shown that those who are more exposed to media are

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