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According the psychologists as Money, gender caused by both biological and social factors, for example although genetics influence gender in ways such as aggression in boys, social factors such as social expectations can also effect gender.

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From this statement Money and Erhart developed a biosocial theory that states that when a new baby is born, the new baby is given a label due to their sex i.e. a baby boy is labelled as male. And due to this label being given the child is perceived and treated in a certain way by adults, e.g. a baby given a boy label will be perceived as more aggressive and treated in a masculine way and a baby given a girl label will be perceived as more delicate and treated in a feminine way.

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Money further believed that if a new baby was born and was mislabelled as the opposite gender, they could be successfully brought up as that gender. He stated that this label must be given before the age of 2 and firmly believed that environmental and social factors are able to override the biological sex of a baby.

Support for Money’s biosocial theory comes from research carried out by Money who looked at 250 reported cases of people who Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD) and found that all patients reported to be happy with gender reassignment. This supports Money’s theory of gender development as it shows evidence for the overriding of biological factors with social and environmental factors. However we should be cautious when using this research to support Money’s theory as it was carried by Money himself suggesting that the evidence found may be due to researcher bias. This matters because although it supports the theory, the results found may lack validity. This suggests that more research must be carried out in order to support the biosocial theory of gender development.

Furthermore a conducting study was carried out by Reiner and Gehrhart who found when researching 14 biological males who born without fully developed male genitals so therefore were raised as females, still showed male tendencies and by the age of 16 over half of the boys had made the decision to being male again. This contradicts Money’s theory of gender development and the previous research he found as it provides evidence of biological factors overriding social and environmental factors. However when comparing this study to Money’s research and theory we must be cautious as Reiner and Gehrhart’s only researched a small sample size, meaning that the results found cannot be generalised to a wider population as we cannot be sure that the results found aren’t due to the individual differences or genetics. This suggests that more research must be carried out in order to fully refute the biosocial approach to gender development.

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Supporting research for Money and Erhart’s biosocial theory comes from research carried out by Condry and Condry (1976) who researched 200 male and female adults and showed participants a video of children interacting with a series of toys including a jack in the box.

They found that when participants were introduced to the baby being called David (male) they explained the child being upset by the jack in the box as an act of anger. However, when participants were introduced to the baby being called Dana (female) they explained the baby being upset due to the baby being scared.

This supports Money’s biosocial theory on gender development as it provides evidence for the power of different gender labels on the interpretation of behaviour. However although this study supports Money’s theory , the study lacks ecological validity as it isn’t a true representation of a situation by which labels can be used to effect gender development. Also the study only uses participants that are adults, therefore the results found many not be able to be generalised to a wider population of the elderly or children. This suggests that more research must be carried out in order to fully support the biosocial approach to gender development.

In conclusion, although the biosocial approach of gender development takes into consideration both biological and social factors, research on the theory has been quite contradicting. For example Condry and Condry found evidence supporting the theory however case studies such as Bruce Remier contradict the research found. This suggests that Money’s theory considering all the research found should be revised in order to explain different situations of gender and provide an adequate explanation of gender development.

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Kylie Garcia

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