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      Prenatal androgen exposure alters girls' responses to information indicating gender-appropriate behaviour

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="d9540478e224">Individual variability in human gender-related behaviour is influenced by many factors, including androgen exposure prenatally, as well as self-socialization and socialization by others postnatally. Many studies have looked at these types of influences in isolation, but little is known about how they work together. Here, we report that girls exposed to high concentrations of androgens prenatally, because they have the genetic condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show changes in processes related to self-socialization of gender-related behaviour. Specifically, they are less responsive than other girls to information that particular objects are for girls and they show reduced imitation of female models choosing particular objects. These findings suggest that prenatal androgen exposure may influence subsequent gender-related behaviours, including object (toy) choices, in part by changing processes involved in the self-socialization of gendered behaviour, rather than only by inducing permanent changes in the brain during early development. In addition, the findings suggest that some of the behavioural effects of prenatal androgen exposure might be subject to alteration by postnatal socialization processes. The findings also suggest a previously unknown influence of early androgen exposure on later processes involved in self-socialization of gender-related behaviour, and thus expand understanding of the developmental systems regulating human gender development. </p>

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          Most cited references 35

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          The gender similarities hypothesis.

           Janet Hyde (2005)
          The differences model, which argues that males and females are vastly different psychologically, dominates the popular media. Here, the author advances a very different view, the gender similarities hypothesis, which holds that males and females are similar on most, but not all, psychological variables. Results from a review of 46 meta-analyses support the gender similarities hypothesis. Gender differences can vary substantially in magnitude at different ages and depend on the context in which measurement occurs. Overinflated claims of gender differences carry substantial costs in areas such as the workplace and relationships. Copyright (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved.
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            The organizational-activational hypothesis as the foundation for a unified theory of sexual differentiation of all mammalian tissues.

            The 1959 publication of the paper by Phoenix et al. was a major turning point in the study of sexual differentiation of the brain. That study showed that sex differences in behavior, and by extension in the brain, were permanently sexually differentiated by testosterone, a testicular secretion, during an early critical period of development. The study placed the brain together in a class with other major sexually dimorphic tissues (external genitalia and genital tracts), and proposed an integrated hormonal theory of sexual differentiation for all of these non-gonadal tissues. Since 1959, the organizational-activational theory has been amended but survives as a central concept that explains many sex differences in phenotype, in diverse tissues and at all levels of analysis from the molecular to the behavioral. In the last two decades, however, sex differences have been found that are not explained by such gonadal hormonal effects, but rather because of the primary action of genes encoded on the sex chromosomes. To integrate the classic organizational and activational effects with the more recently discovered sex chromosome effects, we propose a unified theory of sexual differentiation that applies to all mammalian tissues.
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              Cognitive theories of early gender development.

              The contribution of cognitive perspectives (cognitive-developmental theory and gender schema theory) to a contemporary understanding of gender development is evaluated. Recent critiques of cognitive approaches are discussed and empirical evidence is presented to counter these critiques. Because of the centrality of early gender development to the cognitive perspective, the latest research is reviewed on how infants and toddlers discriminate the sexes and learn the attributes correlated with sex. The essence of cognitive approaches--emphasis on motivational consequences of gender concepts; the active, self-initiated view of development; and focus on developmental patterns-is highlighted and contrasted with social-cognitive views. The value of cognitive theories to the field is illustrated, and recommendations are made concerning how to construct comprehensive, integrative perspectives of gender development.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                February 01 2016
                February 19 2016
                : 371
                : 1688
                : 20150125
                Article
                10.1098/rstb.2015.0125
                4785908
                26833843
                © 2016

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