Nature vs. Nurture: A Gender Debate on Gender Differences

Gender Differences

Nature vs. Nurture: A Gender Debate on Gender Differences

Gender differences is an ongoing debate which contains arguments that gender differences are caused by different biological, or social differences. Both arguments are filled with controversy and have been subjected to different theories that have stemmed from various research with an attempt to articulate and explain the causes of ones gender and how their differences manifest into either different social realms, or scientific biological realms.

As it stands today, gender in our current society is rather ambiguous; however, different factors pertaining to different research discoveries, involving neuroscience studies, evolutionary psychology, social learning theory, and other biological factors have attributed to the notion that gender development is in fact closely related to biological factors (Kirkpatrick, 2003). This development is also closely associated with heterosexuals, but also provides a plausible relation to gender roles with homosexuals due to containing a strong link to not only their sexual preference, but also their biological gender roles.

Evolutionary Psychology

The primary concept of evolutionary psychology caters to the notion that the differences between genders and sexuality are a result of evolution and the different factors in men and women strategies for success (Petersen & Hyde, 2010). This concept also contains the thought that reproductive success is achieved through maximum sustainable of offspring and the generational success of genes being passed on between each generation (Petersen & Hyde, 2010). This theory not only sets a foundation for unions and the desire to obtain viable offspring, but also proposes the that men prefer short term relationships for the purpose of generating more offspring, but interestingly enough, both men and women typically are involved in a marital position with each other that becomes more increasingly desired as men and women age (Peterson & Hyde, 2013).

Cognitive Social Learning Theory

Factors of gender associated as a learned behavior is a result of the cognitive social learning theory. This theory purposes that gender is attributed to different social and learning factors that influence ones gender role and predicts that individuals express and explore their gender roles based on what is deemed socially acceptable, or popular in the media (Peterson & Hyde, 2013). The cognitive social theory also predicts that when the media portrays numerous accounts of sexuality and promiscuous sexual encounters (like those on that gender differences will decrease and there will be a different attitude towards premarital sex and the amount of one’s sexual partners, as well as towards content seen on and similar sites (Peterson & Hyde, 2013).

Genetic Factors and Gender

Genes play a major role in how one physically looks as well as if a person is born male or female. Most individuals have two sex chromosomes that are inherited from each parent. Girls contain the XX and XY for boys (Choi, 2001). However, genes and chromosomes sometimes contain differences that can lead to different physical features that can appear abnormal. One of these syndromes is called Turner’s syndrome and this syndrome causes individuals to only inherit one chromosome (Choi, 2001). When this occurs ovaries, or testicles will not be developed. Many different genetic discoveries are being made and some scientist conclude that our genes can essentially tell our future for physical appearance as well as different predispositions to illnesses that will develop based on ones genetic code (Choi, 2001). Genes also show a correlation between ones gender role and cannot be altered by nurture.

Homosexuality and Gender

Homosexuality and gender plays a significant role in the debate between nature and nurture primarily due to gender being viewed as being nature or nurture , but also because of the significant findings that have been established to the cause of homosexuality. The cause being if homosexuality is something biological, or socially learned through interactions and affirmed later through exposure to sites like and similar contemporaries.

Homosexuality Cause Debate

There has been numerous cultural wars not only in the United Stated, but also worldwide as to the cause of homosexuality (Silfe, 2011). This debate has raised significant questions as to the cause of homosexuality and if homosexuals have the ability to be nurtured into homosexuality, or if certain biological factors attribute to one being a homosexual (Silfe, 2011). This argument has been established not only by use of different social learning theories, which are similar to the genetic social learning theory, but also with different neuroscience evidence and aspects of rearing children in a homosexual environment.

Brain Development

The advancements of neuro scans have shown plausibility that there is a difference in homosexual brain scans as compared to heterosexual brain scans. The part of the brain that is associated with behavior and reproductive physiology known as the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus is shown to be larger in heterosexual males compared to homosexual males (Cherin & Holden, 1995). This shows there is a structural difference between heterosexual males and homosexual males, which allows for a plausibility that this significant difference is associated with homosexuals being biological and not part of different learning theories.

Parent Sexual Orientation

While some researchers argue that homosexuality is a learned behavior, there is significant evidence to support that children raised by homosexuals do not necessarily become homosexuals. The conclusions of these studies have showed there is no direct correlation with children being raised by homosexuals as learning the behavior or gender roles of the rearing couple’s sexual preference, or gender roles. In fact, studies showed the majority of children that grew up with lesbian or gay parents, grew up establishing their own identities as a heterosexual (Patterson, 2013). Though some argue the test subjects pertaining to homosexual couples raising children is vague and difficult to isolate and identify more test subjects, the plausibility remains that there has been more evidence to support that there is a correlation between individuals that were raised by homosexuals as learning the behavior from their homosexual parents, whether that be through copying their homosexual behaviours or visiting the same websites that they see their homosexual parents visiting.

Discussion A Gender Debate on Gender Differences

Though many argue that gender is a learned behavior, I stand to believe that gender roles associated with homosexuality is biological and genetic. Some arguments I would like to impose would be that thus far genes cannot be altered, so if gender is established by nurture then how can so many correlations with genetics be altered to make this a learned behavior. The cognitive social learning theory also implies that media and other popular social dynamics influence gender roles and development. However, I found it difficult to find any relativity in this theory because there has been no significant research to show that learning plays a role in sexual, or gender orientation development. Most research I found in the significance of the learning theory contained personal perception which is probably motivated by strict morals and typically strict morals are difficult to change ones perception of their desired thoughts.

The evolutionary psychology theory, though it contains some discrepancies and what some may deem as archaic, I think that the evolutionary standpoint contains more aspects of gender being biological in nature. This is due to some of the key elements of the evolutionary psychology theory containing less bias and more plausibility towards gender being linked to biological factors. Though significant arguments were made on both ends. I feel the learning components of gender research was plagued with more fallacy and personal opinions rather than supportive evidence like the biological theory imposes.


Chernin, J., & Holden, J. (1995). Toward an understanding of homosexuality: Origins, status, and relationship to individual.. Individual Psychology: The Journal Of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 51(2), 90.

Choi, P. L. (2001). Genes and gender roles: Why is the nature argument so appealing?. Psychology, Evolution & Gender, 3(3), 279-285. doi:10.1080/14616660110104797.

Kirkpatrick, M. (2003). The Nature and Nurture of Gender. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23(4), 558.

Patterson, C. J. (2013). Children of lesbian and gay parents: Psychology, law, and policy. Psychology Of Sexual Orientation And Gender Diversity, 1(S), 27-34. doi:10.1037/2329-0382.1.S.27

Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136(1), 21-38. doi:10.1037/a0017504

Silfe, B. (2011). Taking Side: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues: Is Homosexuality Biologically Based , 17E. Provo Utah. Bringham Young University

4 thoughts on “Nature vs. Nurture: A Gender Debate on Gender Differences

  1. I do agree that sex partner preferencial is a matter of personal decisions since some people may be exposed to all kinds of sexual patterns of close relatives but would rather choose their own different ways.

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