Issues - Gender Bias

Revision notes on gender bias

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  • Created on: 19-06-08 15:35
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Psychology Revision Unit 5 ­ Issues
Gender Bias
Sex = Biological differences between men and women
Gender = The social and psychological consequences of a person's sex.
Types of Gender Bias
1. Androcentrism
Androcentrism is when male behaviour is seen as the norm, often women are judged against that
Examples of Androcentrism
Selection of Participants
Many studies are carried out on an all male sample, but seek to generalise to women.
Studies with an all male sample =
ASCH ­ Conformity study
He showed P's (there was only 1 real P the rest were confederates) 3 lines and asked
them to match in length one of the 3 to another (4th) one. Confederates sometimes
answered wrong to see if the P would conform. Conformity rate = 32%
MILGRAM ­ Obedience study
There was 1 `teacher' ­ the participant and 1 `student' ­ the confederate taking part in
a `learning task'. Whenever the student got a question wrong the P had to administer
electric shocks, increasing the voltage each time. C would scream in pain etc but P was
pressured to continue until the end.
Does the Androcentrism matter?
ASCH ­ Yes
Would women have acted differently?
ASCH ­ Women tend to be more likely to conform than men
MILGRAM ­ women might have been more or less likely to administer shocks
Could the psychologists justify using an all male sample?
ASCH ­ No justification other than a reflection of the views at that time, 1951 ­ women weren't
highly valued / included
MILGRAM ­ No justification
How could Androcentrism be resolved?
ASCH - Repeat the study this time using women
MILGRAM ­ He did variations of the study using women, so there's no justification as to why they
weren't used in the first place.
Research Questions Asked
They often reflect male behaviour being seen as the norm. Psychology is supposed to be scientific,
so research questions should be value free but they aren't.
Travis argues that the male norm (androcentrism) influences the type of research question asked. For
instance these are hypothesis that have been studied;

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Women have lower self-esteem than men"
"Women do not value the paid work that they do as much as men"
"Women are less self-confident than men"
They are androcentric because the view women as in the `wrong', it reflects male behaviour to be
the norm. Why not the other way round?
Also topics studied are androcentric for example aggression is a more male behaviour and here are
many studies on it. There is little work on pregnancy or childbirth.…read more

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Alpha Bias
Alpha bias exaggerates differences between men and women.
Alpha Bias in Psychological Theories
The Socio-biological (Evolutionary) Theory of Mate Selection
According to this theory men are looking for physical features including; young looking, large
breasts, wide hips, symmetrical faces and young in age ­ these features indicate goof child
bearing potential. Men are also looking for as many partners as possible (to father as many
children as possible).…read more

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Beta Bias
Beta bias minimises the difference between genders.
Beta Bias in Psychological Theories & Studies
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development
The Study = Kohlberg developed his theory on the basis of interviews about moral dilemmas
with 72 boys aged between 10 & 16. By analysing the answers participants gave Kohlberg
identified different stages and levels of moral reasoning. In the study he placed characters
(always male) in a situation where a difficult choice had to be made about how to act.…read more

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She found that women were more care focused and men were
more justice focused in their morality.
Evaluation of Gilligan's Theory
There is still beta bias in Gilligan's theory, as she only used females to develop her stages and
the just applied them to men.…read more

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Gender Bias Concluding Points
Gender bias does still exist ­ much of the research in psychology contains it but things are beginning
to change.
Many psychologists identify themselves as feminist psychologists and attempt to redress the
balance of psychology.
There is great recognition that gender bias exists.…read more


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