Social Learning Theory: Gender Roles And Gender Stereotypes

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There are a number of theories that support that children are taught gender roles. Nonetheless, the theory of social learning and symbolic interactionism perfectly reinforce that a parent’s interactions and communication techniques with their children reinforce or deter gender stereotypes. Social learning theory was developed by Walter Mischel in 1966 (Wood, 2015, p. 45). “Social learning theory proposes that children’s real-life experiences and exposures directly or indirectly shape behavior; processes by which this learning occurs can be diverse, and include imitation and reinforcement” (O’Connor et al., 2013, p. 359). Likewise, “social learning theory claims that individuals learn to be masculine and feminine by imitating others and getting …show more content…
However, people only reward some of young children’s behaviors and when children are rewarded they usually repeat those actions, but when they are disciplined they tend to stop the actions that they are disciplined for. This is when Shapiro makes it apparent that it is the ideal time to break stereotypes. For example, say that a boy is playing with a Barbie doll and he gets put into timeout, but when he is playing with a truck he is praised. There is no question that the little boy is going to leave the Barbie doll behind and play with the truck because he is being taught to like trucks. At this age kids do not want to get yelled at, they just want to play and parents knowingly and unknowingly reinforce gender roles. These rewards from others teach boys and girls which behaviors are appropriate for them (Wood, 2015, p. …show more content…
79). Parental figures teach children how they fit into society and children then act accordingly. Thankfully, meanings are not linear, therefore, they can be changed. To further explain, if a teacher is teaching boys to be strong and girls to be helpful a parent can alter these masculine and feminine meanings. They can let their children know that their teacher views boys as being strong and girls as being helpful, but that does not have to be their children’s idea of what it means to be masculine or feminine. Everyone has their own meaning of everything and it is up to parents to let their children know this. If a parent or other superiors do not communicate with children and let them know that gender stereotypes only exist because people allow them to, then change will never take place. Symbolic interactionism is what created gender stereotypes in the first place, it is what allows them to continue to exist, and is what can create the communication change of what it means to be masculine and

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