Gender Schema

Gender-schema theory is a way of explaining gender-identity formation, which is closely related to the cognitive developmental approach. The concept of a schema or a general knowledge framework comes from the field of cognitive psychology. Sandra Bem proposed that each person develops a set of gender-linked associations, or a gender schema, as part of a personal knowledge structure. This gender schema filters and interprets new information, and as a result, people have a basic predisposition to process information on the basis of gender. People tend to dichotomize objects and attributes on the basis of gender, even including qualitites such as color, which has no relevance to biological sex.

Bem proposed that sex typing develops as children learn the content of society's gender schema and as they begin to link that schema to their self-concept or view of themselves. Individuals vary in the degree to which the gender schema is central to their self-concept; it is most central to the self-concept of highly sex-typed individuals (traditionally masculine males or traditionally feminine females).

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