A Brief Review of Cognitive Theories in Gender Development

Alyssa West

Abstract


In this paper I review three cognitive theories that attempt to explain the mechanisms and processes through which we develop an understanding of gender. Cognitive-developmental theory, gender schema theory, and social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation are compared in this article through the exploration of empirical evidence. Cognitive-developmental theory emphasizes the development of cognitive processes which allow for the understanding of gender. Gender schema theory highlights the active role schemas play in acquiring and interpreting gender relevant information, and social-cognitive theory stresses the role of the environment. I found that there is a considerable amount of overlap with the evidence between each theory. Therefore, rather than each theory existing in opposition to one another, there are multiple relevant factors at play concerning both cognition and the social environment in the development of gender. Thus, the main conclusion is that there is a need for greater theoretical integration with regard to understanding gendered development.


Keywords


Cognitive-developmental theory, gender schema theory, social cognitive theory, gender development, gender differentiation

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