The Importance of Biological Factors in the Development of Gender Identity

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The Importance of Biological Factors in the Development of Gender Identity

The biosocial theory suggests that gender identity develops as a result of the obvious biological differences between boys and girls and the hormonal differences between the sexes which can be observed in the foetus from about six weeks (Durkin, 1995). Supporting evidence has been found through animal studies, such as that by Young, Goy and Phoenix (1964) who gave testosterone to pregnant monkeys and found that any female offspring were prone to be unusually aggressive. Evidence is also found in case studies of humans. Imperato-McGinley et al. (1974) studied a family in the Dominican Republic in which four children were born
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This demonstrates the part played by both hormonal and psychological factors, working against genetic factors , in the development of gender identity.

The sociobiological theory argues that males and females look and behave differently because they are driven to behave in ways that maximise their chances to reproduce and pass on their genes. As females produce a limited supply of eggs at some physical cost they must ensure that each reproduction is as successful as possible by selecting a mate with good genes who can provide for them and their offspring. In contrast, males produce large amounts of sperm at almost no physical cost and therefore maximise their chances of passing on their genes through promiscuity. The sexy sons hypothesis argues that females select males who posses characteristics which they would like their sons to inherit, in order that the sons are selected as mates by other females, continuing the genetic line. The handicapping theory suggests that females seek males with robust genes, demonstrated by the males' ability to sustain characteristics that incur a physiological cost, such as a peacock's elaborate tail.

Research evidence in support of the sociobiological theory includes Davis' (1990) findings that men advertising for a mate emphasise their wealth and other resources and women focus on their own physical attractiveness. Cross-cultural studies,
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