Assignment Help | What messages did you receive about what you were or were not supposed to do as a male or a female?


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Through the years, scientists have attempted to find out how many of a person’s characteristics come from heredity and how many from the social environment. Sociologists have studied feral, isolated, and institutionalized children to help answer these questions. It has been found that language and intimate interaction are essential to the development of human characteristics.

We don’t really become fully who we have the potential to be unless we have extensive human interaction when we are infants.  Why is this? Because at birth, the brain is a creation waiting to happen.

Here is how it works ~ the brain has a lot of cells in it at birth. But the number of cells is not the issue.  What matters is how those cells are connected to each other.  What causes the cells to connect is stimulation from the environment.  No stimulation, no brain development.  And the kind of stimulation is important too.  Babies will lay down “brain tracks” imitating what they see.  So interaction with people is crucial to proper development.

This need to interaction apparently stays with us our whole lives.  People who have bigger networks within which to socialize all the way through the life cycle are have better measurements of both mental and physical health.  (One really interesting study recently found that friends were a better predictor of longevity for the elderly than family.  Apparently, as nice as it is to have family around, they also stress us out in ways that friends don’t!)

Male and female socialization is a primary way of controlling human behavior. We socialize through family, religion, school, with other peers, work, and the media. Our socialization in these groups is analyzed to determine the influence each has in preparing people to become full-fledged members of society. Sometimes people have to be resocialized, e.g., criminals, isolates, mentally deficient and mentally ill persons. Often this is done in institutions, although private practices are also used.


What messages did you receive about what you were or were not supposed to do as a male or a female?  How were those messages given to you?


Socialization is an ever occurring process. All of us have heard the saying, “That’s just human nature”? Well, what is human nature? Is it by nature we are human? Is it by nature we can speak or think? Does the saying mean we acted or reacted to something because that was the natural way to behave?

Previously, we talked a little about socialization and the importance of family, friends, school, work, etc., in helping us become “good” members of society. Well, if socialization is so important in helping us become members of society, then it must be an important part in developing how we think, behave, respond to one another, and our self-esteem. This is exactly what C.H. Cooley felt. He said, “Our sense of self develops from interaction with others.” I can relate to that. When I was growing up, I described myself to others as a over-weight. Looking at pictures of myself, I can see I was not overweight.  But¸ I believed I was.  Why?

Cooley’s first point in his “Looking-Glass Self” theory to describe the process of how our sense of self develops is: WE IMAGINE HOW WE APPEAR TO OTHERS.  If I said I was fat, the response was always the same. You aren’t fat. You are just right, or somewhere along those lines. However, I felt people visualized me as and overweight.

Cooley’s second point: WE INTERPRET OTHERS’ REACTIONS. When I would hear those comments, it made me feel they were okay with my physical appearance. Even though I thought I was overweight, if I believed that people didn’t see me that way, then I began to see myself differently.

Cooley’s third point: WE DEVELOP A SELF-CONCEPT. Over time, as I began to see that others didn’t see me as fat, I began to change my own self image. I bagan to have a more realistic sense of my own looks.

This process of course can go the other way.  Supposing a person is saying they feel stupid.  They mention it to family and friends.  People try to kid them out of it by saying things like, “Yeah, you’re a real dummy” or something to that effect.  The jokes may be a way to help people get over their own sense of inferiority. But if the comments are perceived as what others really feel (many a truth is spoken in jest), then one’s self concept may continue to include feeling stupid.

The development of emotion goes along with how our reasoning skills develop. Emotions depend upon socialization, and how we express them depends on various factors. We need to learn how to express emotions correctly. Each culture has norms, and it is often quite necessary that you conform to them, particularly when you are on their home turf.

I have a friend (male) who loves to hug and even kiss everyone he greets. In the same circle of friends is a male who has a hard time with this. In discussing this one time, he indicated it was very difficult for him to accept a hug and certainly never a kiss from this friend. There was a culture clash, and, although it didn’t produce any hard feelings, each had to realize how the other felt. When he understood the reason our friend was expressing this type of emotion, he was more acceptable of it. However, before objectively thinking of the reasons, the culture he was brought up in told him there was another connotation for doing this. My friend said he learned a lot about himself because of these encounters, and he feels it has helped him to be more acceptable of a genuine expression of a caring emotion.

Emotions are an interesting thing in relation to brain development too.  We may be primed through socialization to feel some emotions more easily than others. Our emotions are connected to the release of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.  We have genetic tendencies to release some neurotransmitters more than others.  But,  their release is also shaped by learning and the environment as well as by genetics.  Our brains, as kids, are full of brain cells.  But the connections between them are still non-existent, or at least not very existent.  For brain cells to connect to each other, chemicals called neurotransmitters pass from cell to cell.  These neurotransmitters are things like serotonin and dopamine (among others).  These two are very associated with mood.  As a child experiences happiness and serenity and security, serotonin is released and travels from cell to cell creating a pathway in the brain that is about happiness.  As time goes on for a child, the brain becomes normalized into a default mode. What this means is that when a person is under stress, the brain reverts to default mode, the pattern that it is most used to.  If a child has experienced a lot of security and happiness, then default mode is going to be calmer and happier than if default mode is anxious.  It is possible that kids who have anxious parents may have a lot more anxious experiences as they are growing up.  So they may have a pattern created where the default mode is anxiety. So, our emotions are learned as well as genetically shaped.


## How do you remember yourself at age ten? Are you now what you were then? Think about this and send your comments. No due date or number of screens. Just discussion. I would also be interested to know if you are not close to what you were at age ten, what factors or event(s) changed that. ##


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS, Due Wednesday.  Be sure to meet the minimum requirements.

Chose one and discuss.

1. Describe how the looking glass self has affected your self-concept, for good or ill.

2.  What do you think human nature is?  Include all the different aspects you think are important?  If something is not part of human nature, but is part of behavior, where does it come from?


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