Hormones & Behaviour: Sex differences at puberty

  • By: Terri
  • Date: May 23, 2010
  • Time to read: 3 min.

This is an incomplete representation of the topic. I hope that some of you might be able to benefit from my short notes by grasping the key points.

Behaviour: Reactions in relation to an environment.

  • conscious/unconscious
  • overt/covert
  • voluntary/involuntary

Puberty: Age at which a person if 1st capable of sexual reproduction

The transition from childhood to puberty puts the child in sort of a grey area. The child is sexually mature, but cannot carry the roles & responsibility of an adult.

Some cultures involve unique rituals & ceremonies for the coming of age.

  • Indians
  • Arapesh tribe (New Guinea)

Onset of puberty follows more restrictions for girls than boys.

Early maturation vs Late maturation

Determinant of variation of maturational timing

  • genetic
  • socioeconomic status
    • poor/rural setting
      • puberty delayed (1/2 years later)
  • differences in nutrition & health status
  • specific activities – delay menarche
    • ballet
      • body weight 10-15% below the norm
    • professional sports

Body image

Body image: Cognitive & emotional perceptions of one’s body

Body dissatisfaction leads to:

  • eating disorders
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • low self esteem

Body dissatisfaction in:

  • Girls – increase
    • increase in adipose tissue
    • worsening of self esteem
    • more cases of eating disorders – binge eating
    • amplified when accompanied by other developmental stressors
      • onset of dating
  • Male – decrease
    • increase in muscle mass & height
    • increase in self esteem

Depression is the most prevalent phychiatric problem for adolescents, and is associated with suicide attempts & predicts future adjustment problems.

Current attractiveness ideal

  • Females: ultraslender
  • Males: muscular

Gender differences in opposite sex relationships

  • Release in adrogens increase interest in the opposite sex
  • with increasing pubertal development, more likely to be involved sexually with the opposite sex
  • early maturing adolescents: more romantic involvemtn
  • early maturing adolescents enaged in more sexual activity & delinquent behaviour than late maturers
  • Teen girls who are going steady: lowest self esterrm
  • Boys who had gone steady in the past: higher self esteem
  • Girls feel as close to their boyfriends as with their friends of same sex
  • Boys feel closer to their friends of same sex than their girlfriends
  • Girls seek romantic love affair. Boys seek sexuality alone.
  • At the 1st stages of intimacy, girls seek to prolong the early stages & delay intercourse. Boys accelerates the pace of intercourse.
  • Girls are more interested in personality & behaviour. Boys are more interested in appearance & sexual activity.
  • Boys also recognise that appearance is a less important factor and are less concern about their physical appearance.
  • Boys hang out in large groups. Girls hang out in smaller peer gorups

For early maturing girls, older males are more attractive. For early maturing boys,  they usually have early sexual experiences and more likely to have a steady girlfriend than late maturers.

Sexual behaviour & aggresiveness

  • Castration decreases their aggresiveness
  • Increased testosterone are found in some adult violent crime offenders.
  • Females who have increased angrogens also exhibit aggressiveness the same way a male does.
  • Boys acts out their aggression in the community, however girls act out in their intimate relationships & people familiar with them.

Social-interactional model

Theorise that factors such as:

  • Parent’s involvement in crime
  • Socioeconomic disadvantage
  • Marital conflict

May contribute to the development of antisocial behaviour in children.

Developmental pathways

The authority conflict pathway

  • boys before age 12
  • begins with stubborn behaviours –> defiance –> avoidance
    • running away

The Covert pathway

  • concealing problem behaviours
  • begins with lying & shoplifeing –> property damage –> burglary

The overt pathway

  • increasingly aggressive act
  • bullying behaviours –> physical fighting –> attacking & rape

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