A Review Of Psychology Articles Essay Research

A Review Of Psychology Articles Essay, Research Paper

In this paper I will review four articles, one movie, and one experiment conducted in class. The issue’s all this information covers is sex differences and the degree to which they exists in men and women and why they are present. There will be varying points of view for all these issues with each article having its own studies or theory ’s to support its beliefs. The method for presenting this information will first be summaries of the media gathered then a general discussion where I will draw my own conclusions about what I have read.


Sex and Gender (Deaux, 1985)

The purpose of this article was to come to solid conclusions about the issue of sex and gender differences. Deaux arrived at these conclusions through comprehensive review of studies conducted on the issue in the past. The criteria he used to review this information was he only used psychological literature, he ignored broad physiological data unless related to a specific behavior, and did not use clinical or therapeutic research. As well he only dealt in areas of sex differences where there was wide spread research and held the most promise to explain how sex and gender influenced behavior. In addition he only focussed his research on adult studies leaving adolescent studies for other scientist. I will handle the summary of this article by breaking it up into the same sub-topics Deaux did and writing summaries of what he found about each.

Cognitive Skills:

-Mathematical Ability: In this area he found that men tend to be able to do some specific mental tasks better, such tasks were metal rotation and tests the involved horizontally-vertically manipulating objects. He found no differences in spatial visualization that required more sequential and analytic strategy. As well there was evidence that training could alter performance for men or women.

-Verbal Ability: Finds that women may have better verbal ability, but this difference is weak at best.

-In general: Finds that over the past twenty years women have been making gains in cognitive skills relative to men, this caution’s the belief that behavior differences are indeed biological.

Personality Traits and Disposition:

-Achievement: Finds that women score higher in work and men are significantly higher on both mastery and competition. Finds subjective task value is the better predictor of both male and female choices in achievement domains.

-Masculinity and Femininity: Finds that this area is very broad and any reliable empirical system for measuring these differences will probably not be possible.

-Moral Development: Finds that actual differences are small but men show violence imagery in response to affiliation themes where achievement situations are more likely to elicit violence imagery in women.

Social Behaviors:

-Aggression: Finds that there is generally a 5% difference in males being more aggressive but in actuality it depends on the situation, weather attacking, defending or other variants. As well there is supportive evidence in the amount of aggressive crimes committed by men in comparison to women. As well Deaux notes that this difference seems to be biological in nature with differences noticed at the age of 6 and below.

-Conformity and Social Influence: Finds that women will more easily conform. There is 1% difference/variance in behaviors accounted for by sex.

-Non-verbal Behavior: found that women have superiority in both encoding and decoding non-verbal cues, although explained variance is relatively small. Encoding is particular marked in visual cues for women, as decoders of visual cue’s women don’t do as well.

Central Issue’s:

-Meaningfulness of Difference: Finds that it is very hard to correlate all the studies because of all the variables involved, as well noted that bias is going to exists in investigators so it may be very hard to get any truly unbiased research making the conclusions they find less credible.

-Comparisons Of Laboratory and Field Studies: Finds that it is important to distinguish between the two and that some of the questions asked in one setting may not apply to the other, because of this it is always important to reference difference in the context of which they were found.

-Causes of Sex Difference: Finds that no one side of the nature/nurture argument wholly justifies sex difference and more research is starting to recognize this

Gender Belief Systems:

-Attitudes Towards Roles of Men and Women: Finds that attitudes of roles are changing, more so of women then men, finds attitudes are more likely to be held by older, less educated, lower income and high in church attendance people.

-Representations of Men and Women: Finds that women in media still fall into general stereotypes, as male figures are still more common in both human and animal forms.

-Gender Stereotypes: Finds that people who are highly sex typed will more likely categorize people based on sex.

Context, Structure and Process:

-Martial Roles: Finds that studies are more often based on dual career couples and how it effects division of labor. As well these studies seem to tend to focus on the middle class couples much more then any other income brackets. In addition the issue of the balance of power in a relationship has been focused on but most studies leave out personal and social environmental factors which make some studies incomplete.

-Occupational Structures: Finds that increasing trends in female employment has caused a number of studies, economical and otherwise of the workforce. The results showing division is still a major issue even though overall female employment in the work force has increased.

-Sex Ratio’s: Finds that sex ratios do indeed have an effect on behavior, for example in the 60’s and 70’s when the women population was in "overflow" we saw a sexual liberalism, lower values on marriage and family and an increase in feminist ideology.

-Power and Gender: Finds that sex operates as a diffuse static characteristic, implying lesser competence and thus resulting in lower status for females in comparison to males.

-Gender and Social Interaction: Finds that both men and women are equally able to demonstrate behaviors depending on the internal or external expectations. Also finds that other peoples believes can indeed effect behavior depending on the level of expectancy.

Sex Differences In Imagery and Reading (Colheart, 1975)

In this article using "pure techniques" the investigators attempt to prove weather the supposed sex difference of women performing better at verbal tasks; men at spatial tasks is justified. Because the procedure, which they use, is complicated I broke them up into there three different parts. The findings of his experiments follow in consecutive order.

1) For his first experiment to test verbal ability he has subjects to proceed mentally through a-z and count in their heads the number of letters containing the sound "ee". For his first experiment to test Visio-spatial ability he has subjects go through a-z in their head and count the uppercase letters with a curve.

2) For his second experiment he tested verbal and visual ability by having his subjects read through prose and cross out all occurrences of the letter H.

3) For his third experiment he had subjects read a row of letters and press a button saying "Yes" or "No" if it was an English word. Within the list of letters there were words that looked like English words but one letter was misplaced and some that didn’t look English at all. To monitor all the responses the machine was hooked up to computers to measure the response times as well as correct answers.


1) In the first experiment he found that females completed the verbal task faster where males completed the visual tasks faster. When correctness was measured males excelled in visual scores were females excelled in verbal tasks.

2) In the second experiment he found that the number of pronounced ‘H’s’ missed was very similar in men and women. But for silent H’s he found women scored significantly worse then men. This indicated women’s dependence on the verbal aspect of the test.

3) In the third experiment the NO response for words that sounded like English were slower for both sexes then words that didn’t, but women were overall slower in making the decision. As well women were slower then men in responding to yes words. These results showing how a women is dependent on here verbal capabilities.

Sex Difference and Cross-Culture Studies (Fleming, 1986)

In this article Fleming attempts to see weather generally "accepted" sex differences are still true outside of the western culture or people who are not "white products of male-dominant industrial societies." If they were not true it would follow that gender not sex is the influencing factor in behavior. Fleming gets his results by reviewing both western and non-western studies and drawing conclusions from the two. As above I will do my summaries in the same categories that the researcher put the info into.

-Basis of Interpretation: Finds that because there are more men the women in the field of psychology that bias would be a factor in any results up to date, because of this even the most accurate studies should not be considered 100% valid.

-Spatial Orientation: Finds that although western civilization men have better spatial organization in a study between three tribes; Eskimo, Scot and Temme tribes. The culture that treated women as equal’s and without abuse contained an equal skill in spatial ability. Because of this more research has to be done in this area before any solid claim to men’s spatial dominance can be made.

-Mathematical Ability: Finds that in western studies men do excel in mathematical ability starting at adolescence, although the difference is still not that great. As well he finds that the data is almost completely American and does not include UN-industrialized third world countries at all. Because of this Fleming says how can anyone generalize the rest of the world on such a vastly incomplete study.

-Aggression: Finds that men are built physically better to deal with aggression as well counteract if aggressed against. But also goes on to say that women are traditionally taught not to be aggressive where men are allowed and even encouraged to be physically aggressive. Also because women in most societies are under men they have to keep hostilities to there-selves which usually causes them to express this aggression in self-destructive behavior such as over eating or suicide etc. Unless repressed aggressiveness in taken into account and a more static definition of aggression is agreed upon this characteristic should not be considered as concrete as it is.

-Verbal Abilities: Finds that again not enough cross-cultural studies have been made to account for the socialization factors. In the western studies that have been done they have shown that women do indeed have better verbal abilities but the one cross-cultural study that was done demonstrates that this difference was not pronounced at all.

-In Conclusion: Fleming finds that without cross-cultural studies we cannot make a universal understanding of sex differences because we have not taken into account the whole "universe" for which these current opinions hold in.

The Sexual Brain [(Video) Bingham, 1988]

In this video the purpose was to explore through various studies if biology or culture effected behavior. He does this by going through various actual videos to support arguments as well he makes use of statistical fact to collaborate. Because most of his evidence was spoken I will present his words in paragraph form.

To start he says that initially men and women should have different ways of thought and behavior because the most basic element of life, reproduction, is different for both men and women. By this he means because men have relatively little to loss in reproduction they do not have to be as careful as women do, because of this difference men and women demonstrate different behavior. To follow if behavior is different perhaps this is reflective of a difference biologically. To support this he tells how brains in female rats are different then those of male rats. Specifically he mentions the hypothalamus, which controls what hormones are produced in the body. He then showed by changing the hormones in rats that you could cause them to exhibit different behavioral tendencies. In birds, rats as well as monkeys by switching the hormones of males and females experimenters could cause their behaviors to reverse as well. This behavior effectively shows how behavior is indeed somewhat genetic. As well because our bodies develop because of our environment perhaps our ancestral roots have something to do with our current differences in certain activities. As humans were developing in Africa it was women who would stay in a centralized area and men who would hunt. Because women had to stay together more often perhaps that is why they have developed various verbal skills over men, and men intern developed higher aggression do to the constant need to be active and hunt. More recently studies of females who received male hormones during a birth defect tend to demonstrate physical behavior that is typical of a boy at that age. As hormones are a biological aspect, it would follow that behavior is seemingly effected greatly by nature and not so much by nurture. To further help this point of view he shows that women have a larger corpus callosum responsible for communication, and men have a thicker right cortex responsible for more physical activities. Even with all this supportive information he still points out that ninety percent of violent crime is committed by men, this demonstrating further how perhaps we are closer to our genetic self’s then we think.

Research Project (Henke, 1997)

The purpose of this experiment was to repeat some of the "pure" experiments done by Coltheart, Hull and Slater. As well to evaluate there their tasks and discuss possible reasons for sex related differences in the performance of cognitive tasks. The procedures chosen to be tested in this experiment was the verbal test where subjects had mentally go threw the numbers a-z and state how many had the ‘ee’ sound. As well he tested the visual task which required subjects to mentally go threw numbers 1-9 and state which had a curve in them. Through both of these experiments the subjects had a partner to tell how much time the responses took and record how many mistakes were made. It also may be important to note the subjects were given a sample test like the rated test before each experiment.

In this study the results were as follows. In the verbal test females where found to have fewer errors in a smaller amount of time, but these differences were small at best. As well there were only half as many men tested as females. These results closely coincide with the results of the Coltheart experiment. On the visual test males had significantly less errors then females, as well they did the experiment in a much smaller amount of time. As above it is important to note that there was about half as many men in the experiment as women. Like the verbal experiment these results are very similar to what Coltheart found in his visual tests.

-Actual Results: Verbal Test

Males: Mean Errors=0.73 Mean Time=19.5 n=15

Females: Mean Errors=0.70 Mean Time=18.95 n=30

-Actual Results: Visual Test

Males: Mean Errors=0.61 Mean Time=22.14 n=18

Females: Mean Errors=0.73 Mean Time=27.29 n=30

The Socialization of Sex-Differentiated Skills and Academic Performance: A Mediational Model (Serbin, 1990)

The purpose of this article was to see using a multifactorial model which environmental factors influenced certain sex differences in academic performance. The study included children from grades K-6 from elementary schools in a large Canadian city. All the subjects came from a varied economical and social background. They hypothesized that the parental modeling of sex-differentiated patterns of behavior in the home would cause children to develop sex-typed behaviors in social situations. As well they believed that opportunities to play with male sex-typed toys would improve the children’s visual-spatial problem solving ability. In addition measure’s of the children’s age as well as the parental education; maternal occupation level and occupational level were included as variables in the models. To create this model experimenters mailed questioners to the parents of the 347 children to fill out. With this questioner experimenter’s were able to find out demographic information, descriptions of the home environment as well as summaries of the children’s compliance, social adjustment, and academic competence. Teachers in the schools were able to record the children’s social competence, academic skills and achievement. In the studies they found that only maternal occupation level, paternal education, and the availability of traditional male toys had a significant impact on academic performance. They also found that the father’s educational level was most strongly related to doing well academically is the sense of social factors. This is because a father with a higher education is more likely to pass off to his children the compliance to rules and order as well as the necessary skills to succeed in the classroom setting. The study also found that girls due to their better social responsiveness were able to offset the boy’s superior performance on the visual-spatial tests. This test in-turn also being a good predictor of academic success. It is also noted in this experiment that verbal performance was not an active factor in predicting success in a social setting as previously thought. This study also found the division of labor between parents was not a determinate factor in academic performance, neither was the availability of female sex-typed toys. The direct influence on sex-differentiated skill development seems to lie in family socialization practices as well as opportunities to practice specific skills within an everyday environment.

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