There is a need to clarify the confusion between the biological and social definitions of the term gender. According to biological theory the difference between males and females is with the different types of Chromosomes (male XY & female XX), different examples of hormones (estrogens for females and testosterone for males) and the different types of organs (ovaries for females and testes for males). These above two are the primary source for defining the kind of gender of the human being whether being male or female according to which are being evident by the difference in the physiques (different organs) of the two genders.

Whereas on the other hand, social theory says it is cultural differences between men and women classifying the gender. (Mcleod 2019)

In this article, I will demonstrate the existing methods that describe the factors influencing the gender and its development, both the biological and social methods will be described along with the necessary evidence that supports the method, the examples which make the claim clearer to be followed by the critics from the another school of thought (by social theory against biological and vice versa) or other theory within that led to making the theory under discussion not the sole explanation of the gender. These theories help understanding gender identification under the umbrella of social sciences. With these theories, the factors that contribute to gender development is presented and to understand its practical implications. This essay promotes cognitive process to understand better social, biological, psychological and behavioural approach towards human gender identification and such influences.


Here I will present with the two major approaches implied towards gender influences (1) biological and (2) Social. These two, along with cognitive perspective (a combination of both the biological and social) have formed the basis to gender development in the modern sciences. However, it must be stated that with the distinction of the two approaches as named above, they do overlap with regards to behavioural cognition towards gender formation. Later after the description, the article will present the mechanisms derived from giving the description along with the necessary evidence supporting each theory.


Biological approach supported by considerable methodological evidence supports the theory as a contributing factor towards the gender development. Biological factors do not imply determinism, because behaviours with a strong biological influence may be relatively easy to modify, as exemplified by the diet used to prevent retardation in children with phenylketonuria (Ruble, Martin and Berenbaum, 2007). Biosciences believes in the brain controlling the body, so it is not wrong to say by this approach that factors that govern the sexual differentiation of the physique of the body – Genes and Hormones also govern the brain differentiations amongst and so the behaviour. Thus, biological approaches generally focus on distal evolutionary explanations of gender development and proximal mechanisms mediated by genes and hormones. (Ruble, Martin and Berenbaum, 2007)

Evolutionary Psychology terms the output behaviour on the basis of adaptive pressures carried from the ancestors as developed by them in order to face the problem faced by them then. This adaptive pressure differs in each human being born. These pressures are hypothesized to result in behavioural sex differences seen in contemporary society, including females’ more significant interest in babies and males’ greater aggression and preferences for multiple sex partners (Buss, 2000; Geary, 1998) (Gaulin, 2001). For example, women carry greater physical investment in upbringing the child as compared to the men who cannot take such interest to up bring the offspring, which is reared by him. However, the theory is incomplete in modern science as they are not predictable nor it can be falsified with the idea of adaptation and neither it could explain why then these adaptations are the same for every man. Same for every women being mutually exclusive between the two and also the modern society fails to accept the equality concept between the two genders when behavioural nurtures are governed off with. (GRUMBACH, 2004)

Biological mechanism states the difference between males and females with the underlying factor of physical differentiation. This conception is determined by the Genetic Sex, the difference is determined by one of the pair of chromosomes, males consisting of one X & one Y while the females have both the X chromosomes and the sex determining features lies with the former that is males. (Goodfellow and Lovell Badge, 1993)

Hormones are also responsible for the sexual differentiation as the chromosomes can determine the sex, but the other process of the sex differentiation development is not by the chromosomes it requires other genes which are called hormones; responsible for sexual differentiation of brain and behaviour. Hormones have an effect on the actions in the following two ways: by producing the permanent change to the structure of the brain and the second one by bringing in the temporary alteration & in the behaviours and the brain as the hormones do keeps on circulating in the body during the entire period of childhood and adulthood. The biological evidences are quoted for such influence of the different gender behaviours as governed by the action of these hormones. (Musa 2018)

The empirical evidence to the above theory of the Hormones factor was determined by the experimentation on nonhuman mammals and were then perceived to behave the same way in human species too. The cost and the validity of such presumption is questioned but is supported by Hines (1982) who studied the aggressive Nature among the female babies who were injected with the male hormones to avoid miscarriage. (Hines, 1982) The other question left upon is that the experiment was carried out with the full hormone dosage together into the animals and the observation of the results then. In contrast, on the other hand, the hormones do causes temporary alterations in the development of gender along time by time. (Quadagno, Briscoe and Quadagno, 1977)




Social theory is based on the concept of gender socialization (Gender: early socialization: Peer socialization | Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development 2014) a process that involves learning of social expectations, behaviours and attitudes one determine that are associated with their genders. You might have observed children showing favour to their gender groups that is the related groups together and the unlike groups; this may also be called as gender discrimination. The knowledge of the gender may come in children with the following effect, which here we term as a factor contributing to the gender realization and development more importantly, according to the social theory.

Parental teachings are the first lesson that a child gets with for the gender development. Their role inside and outside of the family influence the understanding of the gender roles within the children(Collins et al., 2000) For example fathers do have expectation of different personality traits, skills, abilities and activities for his son and daughter, so they tend to associate specific characteristics for each of the two separately. 

Peer pressure or interactions within the society and the norms being followed does have an effect on the gender realization and thus are mostly influenced by the like gender (Rubin, Bukowski and Parker, 2007). Consider an old stereotype of long hairs associated with girls and the short hairs with the boys; the length of the hair is defining the class of the gender.

Self Socialization, gender is the first social category that a child becomes aware of. This is connected with the understanding and the awareness among the children of the gender effect and how they are able to collect all such information that is related and then relating it in their mind. This is how they develop a self image of their gender, and they tend to behave accordingly, classifying themselves differently from the opposites. (Martin and Ruble, 2004)

Educational practices being followed also have an influence on the gender orientation. The place where children acquire intellectual efficiency to interact with the society at large. This journey of the schooling starting from the childhood has far reaching impact due to the trend behaviour and dealing of the teacher according to the gender of the child, and thus the differentiation between the two genders is determined. This can be well understood by one non sex differed attribute, but the behaviour of the teacher differs for boys and girls as this may reinforce gender stereotypes. (Bussey and Bandura 1999)

Admiration by the children of their gender roles have a super impact as compared to that by peer, parent and the culture since they are continuously exposed to their favourite storybooks, cartoons, video games and the series on the TV channels and so does the media representation have an influence on gender realization(Bussey and Bandura, 1999). One such example can be female setting impressed by the TV commercial ads and males following superheroes and Spiderman.

Identity theory helps understand the socialization of the roles of the gender and consideration of gender identities. It assumes society as a patterned and stable structure; it highlights the engagement of different individuals. It divides the roles into person, group and role identities. This tends to explain how the learned gender behaviour and stereotypes learned will determine the role being played by that individual and this personal, role and the social identity thus formed will influence the, therefore, built gender identification. (Burke and Reitzes, 1981).

The number of stereotypes that exist could have been quoted in any above social factor, but here it is imperative to cite this separately. Few common such stereotypes are: Knowing and being a phenomenon that may lead to a self fulfilling prophecy, for instance, believing boys are good at maths than girls, considering ladies as more definite, those at the workplace includes assuming the Nature of jobs fixed for men are the most common types of stereotypes which have long been formed and now adopted as distinction factor among the males and females.

Ideology; whether formed or forced, does process for the gender differentiation. A person will behave in different ways in accordance with the habitat formed (Bourdieu, 1977). Just as social position, the beliefs for the right and the wrong and thus the gender groupings are developed within the minds according to the ideas being carried with. The ideology may be formed or enforced within in acc. With the prevailing laws for a specific gender may be in the shape of restrictions or rights or the different punishments. (Gramsci 1927)



The concept of Nature and nurture is emphasized by biosocial approach playing their roles in gender development and identification. (Man and woman, boy and girl: Differentiation and dimorphism of gender identity from conception to maturity. PsycNET. 1972.)

The theory says that after a male or female is born, different treatments and social labelling interacts with the biological factor and contribute to the development. This theory integrated Nature and nurture together. This compromises of two components namely parental, the exposure to the hormones and thus the differentiation of the two on the basis of physical organs and the postnatal, the reaction and the label given to the individual by the parents and others with which they come in interaction with. The concept of masculine and feminine is originated from this very theory. The origin is a biological phenomenon, and the way they are being treated that is social interaction will determine their gender. (Man and woman, boy and girl: Differentiation and dimorphism of gender identity from conception to maturity. PsycNET. 1972.)

The example of this was experimented by Rubin, interviewing 30 parents who used adjectives to describe the babies, although no difference with regards to physical traits. This showed parents labelling their child. (Vinjamuri, 2010) 


By going through understanding the gender differentiation and its development I came across two different school of thoughts: Biological aspect and social theory, both providing the evidence to support their scheme and with the example that led to its confirmation for how the genders are differentiated or how the different genders can be identified. Going across these, I have developed a believe for that both contribute towards the development, identification and thus differentiating the two genders. As (Gaulin 2001) has explained a biological process that the types of chromosomes inherited will determine for a male or a female leading to different organs amongst the two, the physiques are distinct. Along with this the hormones which also plays their role as described (Goodfellow, P. N. and Lovell Badge, R. ,1993) that not only at the time of the birth influencing the gender but also influence throughout the life in manner that the change of hormones at different stages of life is different for each gender.

This alone I would say does not presents a complete understanding, social interactions, their labelling, the culture, and the societal perception, the adaptation mainly because of the stereotypes developed also impacts to the classification of the males and females. According to (Bussey, K. and Bandura, A.,  1999), (Collins, W. A. et al. (2000), artin, C. L. and Ruble, D., 2004), (Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M. and Parker, J. G., 2007) and  (Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L. and Berenbaum, S. A., 2007) the way society perceives, the way the culture adopts, the way peer reacts, the way parents treat, the schooling all these impact the concept of the gender among an individual and they tend to adopt and move close to their own group and therefore districting males from females.

While developing the concept of sociobiological process which implies overlapping of biological and social approaches together, enabled for better understanding human behaviour and the health functioning and operationalization of human being following the modern social sciences.


Bourdieu, P. (1977) ‘The economics of linguistic exchanges’, Social Science Information, 16(6), pp. 645–668.

Burke, P. J. and Reitzes, D. C. (1981) ‘The Link Between Identity and Role Performance’, Social Psychology Quarterly. SAGE Publications, 44(2), p. 83.

Bussey, K. and Bandura, A. (1999) ‘Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation’, Psychological Review. American Psychological Association Inc., 106(4), pp. 676–713.


Collins, W. A. et al. (2000) ‘Contemporary research on parenting: The case for nature and nurture’, American Psychologist. American Psychological Association Inc., 55(2), pp. 218–232.

Gaulin, S. J. . (2001) ‘Sex Differences: Developmental and Evolutionary Strategies’, Evolution and Human Behavior. Elsevier BV, 22(5), pp. 369–371.

Gender: early socialization: Peer socialization | Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development (2014). Available at: http://www.child early socialization/according experts/peer socialization gender young boys and girls (Accessed: 24 April 2020).

Goodfellow, P. N. and Lovell Badge, R. (1993) ‘SRY and Sex Determination in Mammals’, Annual Review of Genetics. Annual Reviews, 27(1), pp. 71–92.

Gramsci, A. (1927) Antonio Gramsci: Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks.

GRUMBACH, M. (2004) ‘To an understanding of the biology of sex and gender differences:?an idea whose time has come’, The Journal of Mens Health & Gender. Mary Ann Liebert Inc, 1(1), pp. 12–19.

Hines, M. (1982) ‘Prenatal gonadal hormones and sex differences in human behavior’, Psychological Bulletin, 92(1), pp. 56–80.

Man and woman, boy and girl: Differentiation and dimorphism of gender identity from conception to maturity. PsycNET (1972). Available at: 26265 000 (Accessed: 24 April 2020).

Martin, C. L. and Ruble, D. (2004) ‘Children’s Search for Gender Cues: Cognitive Perspectives on Gender Development’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), pp. 67–70.

Mcleod, S. (2019) ‘Attribution Theory’, pp. 78 82.


Quadagno, D. M., Briscoe, R. and Quadagno, J. S. (1977) ‘Effect of perinatal gonadal hormones on selected nonsexual behavior patterns: A critical assessment of the nonhuman and human literature’, Psychological Bulletin, 84(1), pp. 62–80.

Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M. and Parker, J. G. (2007) ‘Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups’, in Handbook of Child Psychology. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L. and Berenbaum, S. A. (2007) ‘Gender Development’, in Handbook of Child Psychology. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi: 10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0314.

Vinjamuri, S. (2010) ‘Editor’s report.’, Nuclear medicine communications, p. 1.

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