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Gender – Gender Development

3. Cognitive and Psychodynamic Explanations

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about cognitive and psychodynamic explanations of gender, focusing in particular on: (i) Kohlberg’s three stages of gender development being gender identity, stability and constancy; (ii) research findings that show children in the gender stability stage demonstrate more interest in and attraction to same sex models who appeared at the same time as different sex models, when compared with children in the gender identity stage; (iii) some criticisms of Kohlberg’s research, including its lack of ecological validity; (iv) Piaget’s theory of egocentrism, which is the tendency for a pre-operational child to recall events from their own perspective, which could provide an alternative explanation for why younger children are unable to recognise others’ differing gender identities; (v) gender schema theory, which agrees with Kohlberg in that an individual’s gender identity relies on their experiences; (vi) gender schema theory’s suggestion that children identify with their gender at around two years old, at which point they seek out experiences to help them confirm their beliefs; (vii) Freud’s psychodynamic view, that children’s ideas of gender identity develop in the phallic psychosexual stage; (viii) the oedipus and electra complexes, and how they link to gender development; (ix) some key criticisms of psychodynamic theories.


In this course, Dr Christine McKnight (Cardiff Metropolitan University) explores gender development and dysphoria. In the first lecture, we think about sex, gender, and androgyny, as well as gender stereotypes. In the second lecture, we think about the roles of hormones and chromosomes, and the consequences of atypical hormone patterns. In the third lecture, we think about cognitive and psychodynamic explanations of gender, including theories from Piaget, Kohlberg, and Freud. Next, we think about the role of social learning theory in gender development. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about atypical gender, including the links between gender dysphoria and non-binary gender identities.


Dr Christine McKnight is a sexual health outreach worker at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and lecturer and Cardiff Metropolitan University. Dr McKnight works in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and has research interests in fields such as contraceptive taking behaviour and its effects on health. One of Dr McKnight’s recent publications is 'Models of health behaviour predict intention to use long-acting reversible contraception' (2016).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McKnight, C. (2022, May 19). Gender – Gender Development - Cognitive and Psychodynamic Explanations [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McKnight, C. "Gender – Gender Development – Cognitive and Psychodynamic Explanations." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 May 2022,

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