Sex Roles (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Sets of attributes, including attitudes, personality traits, abilities, interests, and behaviors that are defined as appropriate for each sex.
Men and women are different not only in anatomy, but also in terms of how they behave and in the interests they express. Certain behavioral differences are believed to be biologically determined. For example, the male sex hormone testosterone is believed to be the reason why males are considered more aggressive than females. However, many nonanatomical differences appear to be based on sex roles that are learned by every individual. In other words, people are born male or female but are taught how to be masculine or feminine.
Roles are sets of norms that define how people in a given social position ought to behave. For example, people who have a particular occupation are subjected to a set of expectations concerning the work performed and the style in which it is accomplished. While one might anticipate a mechanic's soiled appearance, such an appearance would be considered unsanitary and unprofessional for a dentist. In contrast to specific roles based on occupations (e.g., teacher, firefighter) or family relationships (e.g., mother, son), sex roles are diffuse because they pertain to virtually all people and apply to all parts of one's daily life. It is therefore important to...
(The entire section is 1546 words.)
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