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Gender – Psychological Theories

3. Cognitive Psychology

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In this module, we think about cognitive psychology and its influence on the psychology of gender, focusing in particular on: (i) the dominance of behaviourism in the period 1920-60, and the importance of figures such as B. F. Skinner (1904-90); (ii) the emergence of cognitive psychology in the 1960s; (iii) the extent to which cognitive psychology provided more welcoming to women than behaviourism, and the importance of figures such as Elizabeth Loftus, Eleanor Rosch and Brenda Milner; (iv) the importance of cognitive psychology in identifying concepts such as unconscious bias and gender stereotypes, which were important to the feminist movement; and (v) the extent to which the metaphor at the heart of cognitive psychology, i.e. that the human brain is like a computer, itself reinforces negative gender stereotypes.


In this course, Professor Peter Hegarty (University of Surrey) explores the psychology of gender. In the first module, we think about different ways of measuring one’s psychological gender, focusing in particular on the most widely-used system, the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BRSI). After that, we think about the history of sex and gender as distinct concepts, before turning in the following three modules to consider how three psychological theories have intersected with the psychology of gender – cognitive psychology, psychoanalytic theory, and social learning theory. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the extent to which the psychology of gender has accommodated the experience of those who identify as transgender or nonbinary, and how the psychology of gender might evolve in the future.


Peter Hegarty is Professor of Psychology at the University of Surrey. His research focuses on the intersection of social psychology, history, and gender and sexuality studies. His two sole-authored books on the history of psychology are about early twentieth-century entanglements between sexology, intelligence testing, and masculinity, and psychology’s more recent relationships with lesbian and gay movements.

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APA style

Hegarty, P. (2021, January 07). Gender – Psychological Theories - Cognitive Psychology [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hegarty, Peter. "Gender – Psychological Theories – Cognitive Psychology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Jan 2021,

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