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Gender – Gender Development

4. Social Learning Theory

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the role of social learning theory in gender development, focusing in particular on: (i) the nature of learning, according to social learning theory, either through direct experience or vicariously, through observation of others; (ii) differential reinforcement, whereby children are rewarded for displaying gender-specific behaviours, which can also occur vicariously; (iii) criticisms of social learning theory as an exclusive approach used to explain gender development, leading to the use of bio-social approaches when discussing gender development; (iv) the role of culture in gender role expression, with early research including Mead’s 1935 paper on ‘primitive societies’; (v) some key criticisms of Mead’s research, including researcher bias; (vi) the role that the media plays in providing gender role models through stereotyping; (vii) some key considerations to be made when considering research into the role of media on gender stereotype confirmation.


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 - Social Learning Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McKnight, C. "Gender – Gender Development – Social Learning Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 May 2022,

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