Applications Of The Study Of Gender And Sexual Orientation Coming OutFor LGBTQ individuals, the process of coming out is an important component of their psychological development. Coming out refers to the process of acknowledging to oneself and others that one is LGBTQ. During this process, the individual’s self-esteem is particularly vulnerable, as he or she faces potential rejection from family and friends. A major aspect of coming out is the development of one’s LGBTQ identity. This development can be conceptualized as occurring in six stages (Cass, 1979). The first stage involves identity confusion, in which the individual begins to question whether he or she might be LGBTQ, based on same-gender attraction. The person asks, “Who am I?” Following this stage, the individual goes through a stage of identity comparison, in which he or she begins to think, “I may be homosexual.” Next, the individual begins to seek out and make contact with other LGBTQ individuals to find affirmation with the potential LGBTQ identity, in a stage of identity tolerance.
He or she thinks, “I probably am homosexual.” In the fourth stage, identity acceptance, the individual accepts rather than simply tolerates the new identity, thinking, “I am homosexual.” The individual then moves on to the stage of identity pride, in which he or she thinks of the world as being composed of people who are LGBTQ (who are good) and straight (who are not good), identifying strongly with the LGBTQ group. In the final stage, identity synthesis, the individual moves away from this dichotomized thinking and recognizes that there are both homosexuals and heterosexuals who are good and supportive. The individual synthesizes his or her public and private sexual identities. Stereotyping, Prejudice, and DiscriminationWhy do we stereotype? Some argue that we stereotype to save cognitive energy; it’s easier to categorize and make quick judgments rather than think carefully about what we perceive.
Others argue that we stereotype in order to exert power over others, which helps to maintain the status quo (Fiske, 1993). When we stereotype, we ignore information that is inconsistent with our stereotypes but acknowledge information that conforms to our stereotypes.
Insofar as stereotyping restricts our behavior to socially sanctioned roles, it exerts control over people. Individuals with power tend to stereotype the most; it is generally adaptive for individuals with low power to pay close attention to others with more power. The more knowledge we have about people, the less likely we are to stereotype them.Gender stereotypes are a set of shared cultural beliefs about males and females. In the United States, women are stereotyped as being more emotional than men. That is, many people tend to assume that women feel more emotions than men and that they feel them more intensely than men do. Some specific emotions are stereotyped as being particularly masculine or feminine. Women are stereotyped as experiencing and expressing more awe, disgust, distress, embarrassment, fear, guilt, happiness, love, sadness, shame, shyness, surprise, and sympathy; men are stereotyped as experiencing and expressing more anger, contempt, and pride.
These stereotypes vary somewhat according to ethnicity, such that black women are stereotyped as expressing as much pride as do black men.This stereotyping can be problematic when communicating emotions in interpersonal relationships, such that our perceptions of emotions are influenced by stereotypes. Some studies have shown that, even when men and women show identical facial expressions of anger, women are perceived as expressing less anger and more sadness than men. We even stereotype infants’ emotions according to gender. For example, a classic study had participants view a video of a baby playing with a jack-in-the-box. Half of the participants were told the baby was a boy; the other half were told it was a girl. The participants who thought the baby was a boy said that the baby expressed anger, but the participants who thought the baby was a girl said that the baby expressed sadness and fear.
Gender is an important piece of information that people use when interpreting emotions.Related to the gender stereotyping of emotions are a culture’s display rules, which dictate which emotional expressions and behaviors are appropriate for males and females. For example, in some cultures display rules dictate that men cannot express sadness or women cannot express anger. Research indicates that men and women differ in their emotional expressiveness, such that women are more emotionally expressive. Similarly, some research using physiological measures of emotion indicates that women experience more emotional intensity. Women also talk more about their emotions and use more emotion words than men do.
This may be related to the fact that women are more aware of their emotions than men are. If our cultural display rules allowed men and women to express the same emotions, some of these gender differences might be different.Americans’ attitudes toward homosexuality have become more accepting and less hostile during the past few decades, though heterosexism and homophobia (a strong irrational fear of homosexuality) are still widespread. Hate crimes are the most extreme examples of such prejudice, though other, more subtle forms also exist.
For example, in many states it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals with regard to housing, employment, and child adoption. Similarly, more and more states are adopting constitutional amendments that define marriage as a legal union only between a man and woman. Typically, LGBTQ partners, sometimes referred to as domestic partners, are not recognized as spouses with regard to child custody, health insurance, power of attorney, or Social Security benefits. Much of this prejudice and discrimination is grounded in the widespread cultural assumption that it is “normal” to be straight and abnormal to be LGBTQ. This assumption is called compulsory heterosexuality (Rich, 1980).
Compulsory heterosexuality sets the stage for heterosexism and stereotyping of LGBTQ individuals. When an LGBTQ individual internalizes compulsory heterosexuality and heterosexism, he or she is likely to experience shame and lower self-esteem. Yet, compulsory heterosexuality has negative effects for straight individuals as well, insofar as it restricts their sexuality and reinforces strict gender roles.
Psychological Differences Between Males and Females Temperament and PersonalityTemperament reflects biologically based emotional and behavioral patterns that appear early in life and is composed of three major traits: effortful control, negative affectivity, and surgency. Personality reflects social and emotional individual differences and is often framed with a five-factor model (known as the “Big Five”): extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience. Temperament is related to the development of personality, so we consider gender differences in these domains together.The factor of effortful control is composed of attention-regulation dimensions (for example, paying attention when one needs to or being easily distracted) as well as inhibitory control. Effortful control is linked to the Big Five personality factor of conscientiousness, which is very similar in men and women. Generally, girls tend to be better than boys at regulating their attention and controlling inappropriate behaviors. The ability to regulate attention is considered a major developmental task in childhood, so it is notable that a difference exists. Elementary school teachers may find this difference particularly noticeable, such that they may need to help boys pay attention in class or find that boys are more disruptive than girls in the classroom.Negative affectivity comprises dimensions such as anger, frustration, emotional intensity, and fear.
The factor is associated with the Big Five trait of neuroticism, on which women tend to be higher than men. Yet, girls and boys are generally similar on negative affectivity, despite stereotypes that girls are more fearful or that boys are more prone to being angry.Surgency represents a cluster of several dimensions, including approach (i.e., the degree to which a child approaches or withdraws from new experiences), high intensity pleasure, smiling and laughter, activity, impulsivity, and shyness. Some researchers think of surgency as positive affectivity. Surgency is linked to the Big Five trait of extraversion, which shows a mixed pattern of gender differences. Boys tend to score higher on the factor of surgency, reflecting their higher activity levels and enjoyment of rough-and-tumble play. AggressionAggression refers to behaviors that are intended to harm another person.
We can distinguish two major types of aggression, physical and relational. Physical aggression refers to aggressive behaviors that involve a physical attack on another person, such as kicking or pushing. Relational aggression refers to aggressive behaviors that involve insults or social rejection and are aimed at harming social connections, such as spreading rumors. At around two years of age, when children begin playing with one another, gender differences in physical aggression emerge. Boys tend to be significantly more physically aggressive than girls are. Regarding relational aggression, girls may be more likely to resort to relational aggression than physical aggression, in part because there are strict prohibitions against physical aggression for girls. Similarly, some theorists believe that girls use relational aggression because interpersonal relationships and social connections are particularly important to girls.Why do males and females differ in physical aggression?
The root of gender differences in aggression is not entirely clear. Some think it is the result of testosterone, but research does not provide strong support for this view. Others believe that, because the male gender role involves being physically aggressive and powerful, boys behave aggressively because they are allowed or even encouraged to do so.
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We see many male characters in the media— including films, television, and video games—use physical aggression and violence to solve problems or achieve goals. In this way, a social learning theory perspective on physical aggression is useful. Boys not only observe role models engaging in physical aggression but also are often reinforced for imitating those aggressive behaviors.
Self-EsteemSelf-esteem refers to the overall positive regard for the self. Although there is a popular belief that women have substantially lower self-esteem than men, meta-analysis indicates that the difference is actually rather small (Kling, Hyde, Showers, & Buswell, 1999). Self-esteem may change throughout the life span; for example, it typically drops during adolescence for both boys and girls, though slightly more for girls.
In older adulthood, the gender difference in self-esteem no longer exists. Interestingly, the difference seems to exist primarily in white samples—that is, other ethnic groups show no gender difference in self-esteem. Generally, males and females do not differ in their self-esteem. Abilities and AchievementThe stereotype that males are better than girls at math is persistent, pervasive, and inaccurate. Despite evidence that boys and girls do not differ substantially in math abilities or aptitude (Spelke, 2005), many people continue to believe that boys outperform girls in math.
Girls tend to be better at computation until high school, and there is no gender difference in the understanding of mathematical concepts. Interestingly, girls tend to take fewer math and science courses in high school and college, which may lead to their slightly poorer problem solving during that time. Further, there is no evidence of gender differences in general intelligence or verbal abilities. Boys tend to have stronger spatial abilities, which are important in engineering, yet they can improve their spatial abilities with practice.Girls get better grades and make better progress than do boys at every grade level and in every subject, and women attend college at higher rates and receive as many or more college and business degrees as men do. Yet, women tend to work in substantially lower-paying and lower-status jobs than men do. Some people argue that job discrimination contributes to this discrepancy, others maintain that our culture devalues women’s work, and still others contend that gender differences in motivation for certain kinds of jobs are responsible. Although it is unclear what causes the gender difference in wages and job status, academic abilities and aptitude are not likely contributors.
Mental HealthThere are several mental disorders that show gender difference. Men are three times more likely to experience alcoholism. Yet, women are nine times more likely to be anorexic and twice as likely to experience depression.
The theories of each of these disorders are the subject of much research and are too lengthy to discuss here; in this research-paper we will focus on the gender difference in depression.During childhood, boys and girls have very similar rates of depression. Yet, around age 13, girls’ rates of depression jump to twice those of boys (Hankin et al., 1998). We see this gender difference in depression throughout adulthood and across cultures. Regardless of how we measure depression, twice as many girls and women are depressed than are boys and men.Why do girls and women show more depression than boys and men do? There are a number of theories that attempt to explain the gender difference in depression, and all have strengths. Some of these theories argue that there is a gender difference in the cognitive vulnerability for depression—that is, something about the way that girls and women think about and interpret their experiences makes them more likely to be depressed when bad things happen to them. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema’s theory of rumination and Lyn Abramson’s hopelessness theory of depression both argue that there is a cognitive vulnerability for depression.
Some research indicates that women and adolescent girls are more likely to display such vulnerability.Some theorists have argued that more girls and women are depressed because they experience more negative life events than boys and men do. For example, women are more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, poverty, and discrimination. Thus, even if there is no gender difference in cognitive vulnerability to depression, simply experiencing a greater number of negative life events should increase one’s likelihood to be depressed.How we feel about our bodies is related to our mental health. To some extent, the gender difference in depression is explained by girls’ greater dissatisfaction with their bodies, or poor body image. This is particularly noticeable during adolescence, during the time of gender intensification, which refers to the increased pressure to conform to gender roles. During adolescence, appearance is central to conforming to gender roles just as puberty causes the body shapes of boys and girls to undergo major changes.
The increased attention paid to appearance will likely lead to a girl feeling shameful and depressed if she feels she does not fit the beauty standard of her culture.A related factor is the timing of puberty—that is, whether puberty begins earlier or later can impact our mental health. Boys and girls tend to approach puberty with different attitudes, and the timing of puberty further shapes those attitudes.
For girls, early puberty is particularly problematic; if a girl grows breasts before her peers do, she is likely to be the target of sexual harassment and sexual advances from others. Because she is young, she may also lack the coping skills necessary to manage such unwanted attention to her body, which she is likely to feel self-conscious about. This type of girl is at an increased risk for feeling anxious and depressed, as well as for engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
For a boy, reaching puberty later than his peers can be stressful. Because boys tend to enjoy and look forward to their pubertal changes, which are often perceived as a marker of their masculinity and bring them closer to the cultural ideal, experiencing such changes at a later age may precipitate harassment from peers.Peer harassment has become a major area of research in recent years.
Peer harassment includes sexual harassment, bullying, and verbal, physical, and sexual aggression. Although roughly the same number of boys and girls experience peer harassment in high school, girls are more likely to be upset about it or feel self-conscious, embarrassed, and less confident because of it.
For this reason, peer harassment may help explain girls’ greater incidence of depression.Another factor that appears linked to the gender difference in depression is violence and poverty. Both violence and poverty are clearly linked to the experience of depression, for obvious reasons. Women and girls are more likely than men and boys to be victimized by childhood sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, and partner violence. In addition, women appear at increased risk for negative outcomes related to this violence. Some theorists have argued that violence against women is the product of a patriarchal culture in which male dominance and female subordination are central to our social structure (Koss et al., 1994). Similarly, women are increasingly overrepresented among the poor, a trend referred to as the feminization of poverty.
The feminization of poverty is related to a number of factors, including the gender differences in wages and child-care responsibilities.Each of these factors appears to play a role in the gender difference in depression, as none completely explains the discrepancy. It is likely that a combination of these factors contributes to the higher incidence of depression in females beginning at adolescence. SexualityThere are several areas of sexuality in which men and women differ. Regarding the immediate effects of the first sexual experience (that is, the first intercourse), women tend to report more guilt and men tend to report more physical pleasure. Among women, feelings of guilt regarding the first experience are more likely when the first sexual experience occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol or at a younger age.
The gender difference in emotional reactions to the first experience may be linked to the gender difference in the ways that we think about sex. Although women are likely to have sex to strengthen relationships and increase intimacy, men are likely to have sex to gain physical pleasure. These gender differences are consistent with men’s more permissive attitudes toward premarital sex. Men are much more likely to have masturbated to orgasm, both in terms of prevalence and incidence, and they are also more likely than women to experience orgasm during intercourse and masturbation (Oliver & Hyde, 1993). Yet, there are also aspects of sexuality in which men and women are very similar. The gender differences in attitudes toward casual sex and in reported sexual satisfaction are very small. Psychological Differences Between Straight And LGBTQ IndividualsThe problem of operationally defining and consistently measuring sexual orientation makes it challenging to interpret research findings on the psychological differences and similarities between straight and LGBTQ individuals.
In addition, researchers have given much less research attention to this topic than to the question of psychological gender differences. With regard to the mental health of LGBTQ individuals, research findings from population studies indicate that they are more likely than straight individuals to experience depression and to attempt suicide (Meyer, 2003). These mental health problems may be related to LGBTQ individuals often being the target of prejudice, discrimination, hate crimes, and the stress of concealing one’s sexual orientation for social acceptance.
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Psychologists agree that LGBTQ individuals are not inherently mentally ill or deviant. Similarly, there is now consensus among psychologists that a sexual orientation toward members of one’s own gender is not a mark of mental illness, though it has not always been understood in this way.
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Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a psychiatric disorder.Although LGBTQ romantic relationships are often stereotyped as less stable or satisfactory, they are very similar to straight romantic relationships in terms of satisfactions, loves, joys, and conflicts (Hyde & DeLamater, 2006). Similarly, LGBTQ families show important similarities with straight families. Children of LGBTQ parents are just as likely to grow up to be straight as are children of straight parents (Allen & Burrell, 2002). In addition, children of LGBTQ parents are not different from the children of straight parents in terms of their social skills, mental health, or adjustment (Patterson, 1992).
As a result of these research findings, the American Psychological Academy of Pediatrics officially supports adoptions by LGBTQ parents. SummaryGender and sexual orientation are important dimensions of diversity that, until recent history, received little research attention.
This research-paper reviewed some of the theoretical perspectives on gender and sexual orientation, as well as the major research methodologies that are prominent in the field. Findings of psychological differences and similarities between males and females, as well as between straight and LGBTQ individuals, were also discussed in the context of stereotyping and prejudice and the unique experiences that these dimensions of diversity offer.References:. Allen, M., & Burrell, N. Sexual orientation of the parent: The impact on the child.
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Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.See also:.Free research papers are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to order a on any topic and get your high quality paper at.
For a full list of definitions, read through HRC's Visit HRC's for more information and resources on living openly and authentically Sexual orientationAn inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Gender identityOne's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Gender expressionExternal appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. TransgenderAn umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation.
Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. Gender transitionThe process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions. Gender dysphoriaClinically significant distress caused when a person's assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – 'is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.'