Gender may be defined as psychological condition and state that identifies a person as either male or female. Generally, the interaction between hormones and behavior determines gender identity to some extent. This paper will evaluate and discuss some of the relationships between hormones and human behavior.
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Again, the paper will analyze some of the ways through which the interaction and relationship between hormones and behavior determine gender identity. There will also be a discussion about the roles played by biological and environmental factors in human behavior. This will be followed by an evaluation of the role of nature and nurture in determination of human characteristics and sexual differentiation. Finally, the paper will evaluate and analyze sexual identity in relation to biopsychology (Eagly and Wood, 2013).
Relationship between hormones and behaviors
Various researchers have established that there is a close relationship between endocrine hormones and human behavior (Eagly and Wood, 2013). For example, growth hormones are usually responsible for determining how people grow, while sexual hormones such as gonads and hormones produced by the ovaries influence sexual behaviors. This is a testament to the fact that most sexual behaviors of females are usually evident during the estrus cycle.
In addition, the testosterone hormone in males is usually responsible for the development of male sex characteristics. However, female sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone do not play a great role in the fetal sexual differentiation. Furthermore, the male sex hormone known as the androgen is mainly responsible for the development of male external reproductive organs (Eagly and Wood, 2013).
A hormone is a chemical substance that circulates in the body, which has influence on behavior and physiology. Most hormones that affect behavior are usually located in the brain although their effects are felt in various body parts. Generally, these hormones influence various behaviors such as cognitive, emotional and sexual behaviors. Nevertheless, major hormones in the body are found in the nervous system and the endocrine system (Coleman and Hong, 2008).
Various scholars argue that the main difference between female and male brain development usually depends on the sex of the person and the gender identity. For example, studies on brain structure and functioning reveal that prenatal exposure of male children to androgen hormone slows down the growth of the left hemisphere of the brain (Coleman and Hong, 2008).
Again, researches provide that the right hemisphere is responsible for most characteristics and abilities of male children and adults, mainly because the male sex hormone is associated with development of the right hemisphere of the brain. This also indicates why male students mainly show characteristics such as mathematical talents that are located in the right hemisphere. On the other hand, the female sex hormone estrogen is responsible for the development of the left hemisphere of the brain.
This is why characteristics that this part of the brain is responsible for, such as the ability to speak clearly and other verbal qualities, are mainly witnessed in females. Finally, the human brain, especially its part known as the hypothalamus, plays a critical role in sexual behaviors of human beings, since it is mostly responsible for the functioning and development of the sexual behaviors (Coleman and Hong, 2008).
Gender identity is a system that involves qualities of masculinity and femininity, including the roles that the society prescribes to men and women.
Generally, biological factors and environmental factors usually influence and determine sexual behaviors of humans. These biological factors also help in the sexual differentiation of individuals and enable people to understand various challenges that are involve in human sexuality. Besides, at early stages of children development, their sexual differentiation is usually influenced by the various environmental factors.
Gender identity usually allows individuals to identify themselves as either male or female. The environmental factors that affect human gender identity can be termed as nurture while the biological factors that influence behaviors and gender identity are known as nature. Although other factors such as social interaction between adults and children also play a significant role, nature and nurture are the main determinants of gender identity (Eagly and Wood, 2013).
Nature and Nurture Determination of Gender Identity
Biological factors or nature affect behavior and gender identity in that most behaviors are genetically inherited or emanate from parental hormonal influence. For example, females have chromosomes XX, while males have chromosomes XY, both of which are responsible for gender identity such that, combination of XX results into a female child while combination of XY results into a male child. This clearly shows that nature has direct influence on gender identity.
Again, hormones influence the gender identity, as those who have more female sex hormones usually portray female characteristics while those who have more male hormones usually show more male characteristics. This also shows that nature has effects and influences on gender identity (Goddings, Burnett, Bird, Viner, and Blakemore, 2012).
On the other hand, environmental factors or nurture influence gender identity, as a person tends to develop characteristics that are related to their exposure to the external environment. Although this involves both social and environmental factors, it is important that the method of child rearing be properly considered, as it may herald future behavior of the child.
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For example, most children usually learn and develop through their life experiences, especially their observation of daily parental and other adults’ lifestyles. Therefore, those children who are brought up by same-sex parents develop the same gender as their parents. This shows that the method of rearing a child, including mode of dress and their surrounding environment play a great role in the development of the child’s gender identity (Goddings, Burnett, Bird, Viner and Blakemore, 2012).
In my opinion, biological factors or nature provide greater influence in determination of gender identity than the environmental factors or nurture. Evidently, identical twins will show more gender similarities than dizygotic twins will, even if reared in the same or different environmental factors.
However, some argue that both nature and nurture contribute equally to the development of gender identity. Nevertheless, biological factors or hereditary factors influencing gender identity are usually stronger and more significant in an individual than the nurture or environmental factors (Goddings, Burnett, Bird, Viner, and Blakemore, 2012).
Biopsychology identifies only two gender identities, male and female. However, this argument fails to take into account other gender identities such as intersexuals and transsexuals who may show both male and female sexual characteristics at the same time, as they have both female sex and male sex hormones. Despite this argument, biopsychology helps in scientific study of the brain and the various hormones that affect gender identity.
Therefore, through biopsychology, we can scientifically and biologically explain the reasons behind transsexual behaviors, as well as why person’s gender identity occurs the way it does. Moreover, through biopsychology, the contributing factors of nature and nurture in relation to gender identity can be explained scientifically and biologically, hence the explanation of the main reasons for abnormal sexual behaviors (Goddings, Burnett, Bird, Viner and Blakemore, 2012).
This paper has discussed various factors that influence human behaviors, as well as critically evaluated the role of nature and nurture in determining human gender identity.
From the paper, it is clear that nature refers to genetic factors that individuals inherit from their parents and these include sex hormones and chromosomal factors. In addition, the paper has also discussed about gender identity and established that biopsychology can help in solving the gender identity controversy involving transsexuals using both scientific and biological reasons behind these sexual behaviors
Besides, from the discussion above, it is clear that hormones and environment have a lot of influence on human development and hormonal control in both emotional and sexual behaviors. Again, hormones in the brain, especially sex hormones such as androgens, mainly determine sexual differentiation in humans.
Sexual differentiation is a process through which males and females develop external reproductive organs, usually this process starts from the fertilization of the ovum and continues until the development of zygote and embryo. Besides, chromosomes also play an important role in sexual differentiations.
In addition, androgen and other female sex hormones are also very important in the determination of sexual differentiation. Finally, other gender identity characteristics include those related to intersexual, hermaphrodites, transsexual, gender dysphoria, and autogynephilic.
Coleman, J. M., & Hong, Y. (2008). Beyond nature and nurture: The influence of lay gender theories on self-stereotyping. Self & Identity, 7(1), 34-53.
Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (2013). The Nature–Nurture Debates: 25 Years of Challenges in Understanding the Psychology of Gender. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(3), 340-357.
Goddings, A., Burnett, S., Bird, G., Viner, R. M., & Blakemore, S. (2012). The relationship between puberty and social emotion processing. Developmental Science, 15(6), 801-811.