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The four theoretical perspectives of Human Development
According to the social learning theory, children acquire their gender identity by observing imitating behaviors which are associated with the respective genders. The children are rewarded for exhibiting the behaviors and hence being shaped by individuals in their environment by attempting to copy them. For example, when two children, a boy, and a girl, are playing dress-up and then the boy puts on a girl's dress, an adult who sees this may commend the girl but harshly instruct the boy to remove the girlish clothes. Chances are that the girl will continue putting on the dresses while the boy will try and avoid.
The identification theory puts into view a psychological process in which an individual assimilates certain attributes or aspects from another person such that he or she is transformed either partially or wholly as per the model of the latter. The identifications, in this case, contributes to an individual's personality (Anderson, 2016). For example, a man who wants to identify with the female gender may put on dresses and make-up similarly to most women such that it becomes part of him eventually.
The cognitive development theory presents a process that takes place as a result of biological maturation and one's interaction with his or her surroundings. It puts into view understanding the world and then putting up discrepancies between what one knows and what is learned from the environment (Anderson, 2016). For example, a girl child may associate more with the female gender as per her physical growth and how she understands what it means to be feminine.
The symbolic interaction theory puts into view the symbolic meaning that individuals develop and depend upon during social interaction. The theory focuses on subjective meanings that individuals assign to events, items or behaviors. The theory views the society to be constructed using human interpretation and that people form social bonds by interpreting each other's behavior. On gender, the theory puts into view the gendering and socialization of children into adults (Anderson, 2016). For example, a child is approached in terms of a boy or a girl depending on the sex when he or she is born. When the adults are aware of the sex of a child, they begin to shape their mode of interaction to align with the exhibited gender.
Differences of the Theories
A key difference among the theories is on how they approach the development of behavior. In the social cognitive theory, the behavior is learned through imitation while in the identification theory, the behavior is acquired through assimilation. For the cognitive development, gender awareness is developed as per the biological processes and interactions present in one's environment, while symbolic interaction theory puts into view the development of social bonds by interpreting each other's behavior. Also, social cognitive theory and cognitive development theory mostly focus on child development when compared to the identification and symbolic interaction theories.
Choosing two of the four perspectives, explain how the two perspectives you have chosen are similar or may complement each other.
On similarity, social cognitive theory, and cognitive development theory are similar as they involve the identification of children with the respective genders. As highlighted earlier, according to the social learning theory, children acquire their gender identity by observing imitating behaviors which are associated with the respective genders while in the cognitive development theory, the surrounding also comes into perspective as per the observations that children make during socialization. The basic difference is that the latter includes the biological process when it comes to gender identification (Leaper, 2015).
Anderson, M.L. (2016). Thinking about Women Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender. New York: Pearson.
Leaper, C. (2015). Gender and SocialCognitive Development: Handbook of child psychology and developmental science. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
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