The Psychology of Gender

The Psychology of Gender

The Psychology of Gender

The Psychology of Gender


To what extent does gender influence our behavior, thoughts, and feelings? How do "nature" and "nurture" interact to shape our identities as female or male? And what are the effects of gender on the ways we are perceived and treated by others? The second edition of this important text and reference confronts the central questions pertaining to gender differences and similarities across the lifespan. Rather than focusing on a particular viewpoint, the volume is carefully designed to foster comparison among different lines of psychological research and provide a broad survey of cutting-edge work in the field.


Class, race, sexuality, gender—and all other categories by
which we categorize and dismiss each other—need to be
excavated from the inside.

—ALLISON (1994, pp. 35–36)

Dorothy Allison, novelist and feminist, and many other authors and scientists have written about how consequential social categories such as gender are to life experiences. Gender functions as a social label that is applied to people instantly and generally automatically, without deliberation. And much of the power of gender emerges from the universality of this categorization. Although scholars have pointed to the wisdom of considering that humanity comprises more than two sexes and is in fact a continuum of people between the dimorphic ideals of man and woman (e.g., Fausto-Sterling, 2000), dividing the world into men and women is fundamental to all cultures. For all but a small proportion of individuals who are born intersexed, sex-typed bodies place individuals in the social category of female or male. Although there are multiple ways to construe gender personally, being born into one of these categories and not the other has a profound impact on how individuals are treated, what they expect of themselves, and how they lead their lives.

That gender has considerable impact on people's lives is obvious . . .

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