Sociology - Gender & Sexuality Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

More specifically, whereas certain components of human behavior are hard wired, many other components are learned from exposure to others in society. According to this view, the individual learns by watching others, starting in early childhood. By adulthood, those expectations transmitted through social learning are completely internalized by the individual and not perceived as matters that one learns from others.

By imitating adult role models and emulating behaviors expected of males and females in society, the developing individual learns what it means to be a male or female in that particular society. For example, if male role models and authority figures model aggressive or belligerent mannerisms in self-expression, male children absorb their exposure to these displays of masculinity and eventually come to identify with and exhibit those characteristics themselves. Similarly, if female role models and authority figures model passive or accommodating behaviors, female children come to identify with and exhibit those behaviors, instead.

In general, social learning applies to the entire spectrum of human behavior. In particular, with respect to sexuality, social learning in many societies includes the expectation that males will pursue sexual activity indiscriminately or "recreationally" whereas females learn that they are expected to be much more discriminating about sexuality and not to pursue sex for recreational purposes, but only in connection with long-term relationships.

4. List one cognitive differences between men and women that seems most likely due to biological factors and one cognitive difference that seems most likely due to environmental factors. According to psychologists, females demonstrate a much better ability to interpret facial expressions than males. This is thought to be one example of how biological evolution influences elements of human behavior. Evolutionary theorists believe that natural selection favored human females who were better able to understand the needs of their infants, especially before they could communicate directly. Therefore, females evolved better awareness of what facial expressions mean.

Likewise, females tend to focus more on verbal communication and social bonding whereas males tend to be more oriented to group activities that emphasize task- specific cooperation rather than verbal relationships. These differences are also thought to be functions of biological evolution originating in the need for females to promote social unity among families and extended family groups; males, on the other hand, evolved tendencies consistent with hunting and fighting off enemies of the society collectively. Some cognitive differences normally observed between males and females may be more related to environmental influences than to biology. For example, males are considered to have better mathematics skills and technical abilities than females. As likely as not, much of the difference in their respective abilities in specific academic areas is a function of males being encouraged to pursue technical studies whereas as females are more often encouraged to pursue other courses of studies. According to some of the most recent research, many of the gender-related attributes thought to be functions of biology are simply the result of environmental influence…

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