Gender Bias

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  • Gender Bias
    • Alpha bias
      • Alpha bias within psychological research which exaggerates the differences between the sexes
      • An example is the socio-biological theory - it is in the males best interest to impregnate women as possible to increase the chances of his genes being passed on
        • For women, the best chance of preserving her genes is to ensure the healthy survival of her relatively few offspring.
          • Theory shows that sexual promiscuity in males is genetically determined whilst females who engage the same behaviour are regarded as going against their 'nature'
            • This exaggerates the differences between the sexes (alpha bias)
      • Essentialism - Walkerdine (1990) reports how in the 1930's 'scientific' research how women attending university would shrivel their ovaries
        • Such essentialist accounts in psychology are often politically motivated arguments disguised as biological 'facts'.
      • Sexism within research - a lack of women appointed at senior research label means female concerns may not be reflected
        • Male researchers are more likely to have their work published
          • Female participants are placed in an inequitable relationships with a (usually male) researcher who has the power to label them unreasonable and irrational and unable to complete complex tasks
    • Beta bias
      • Beta bias ignores or minimises the differences between men and women.
        • This occurs when female participants are not included as part of the research process and then assumed that research findings apply equally to both sexes
        • An example of beta bias is the flight or fight response.
          • Early research into fight or flight was based on male animals and was assumed to be a universal response to a threatening situation
            • Taylor et al (2000) have suggest women tend to shift attention to caring for offspring (tending) and forming defensive networks with other females (befriending)
    • Androcent-rism
      • Male-centered; when 'normal' behaviour is judged according to a male standard (meaning that female behaviour is often judged to be 'abnormal'.
        • This leads to female behaviour being misunder-stood, and taken as a sign of psychological instability or disorder
          • For example, Pre Menstrual syndrome (PMS)
            • Male anger however is often seen as a rational response to external pressures
    • Reflexivity - Researchers are beginning to recognise the effect their own values and assumptions have on the nature of their work.
      • Rather than seeing such bias as a problem that may threaten the objective status of their work, they embrace it as crucial and critical aspect of the research process in general


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