Gender Bias in Psychology

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What is gender bias?

Hare-Mustin and Maracek (1988) alpha and beta biases lead to erroneous identification of gender differences

  • Alpha and Beta Biases

    • Alpha biases suggest real and enduring differences between men and women, e.g. Freudian psychosexual development theory

    • Beta biases suggest there are very little or no differences between the sexes

    • Psychology has an andocentric bias – both written and conducted by men

      • Kohlberg (1969) moral reasoning thesis completely based on men

      • Gillan and Attanucci (1988) male and female reasoning is very different, men focus on justice, women on care

  • Biological Research

    • Stress responses were heavily beta biased

    • Taylor et al (2000) fight or flight vs. tend or befriend

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Gender Bias

  • Biological Research

    • Stress responses were heavily beta biased

    • Taylor et al (2000) fight or flight vs. tend or befriend

  • Real differences

    • Hormonal changes in women makes them hard test subjects

  • Aspects of gender bias in psychological research

    • Gender imbalance in staff means men are more likely to be in higher research positions

    • Hypotheses promote stereotypes and psychologists are more likely to study participants of their own gender

    • Sampling methods are biased

    • Lab studies greatly underrepresent women

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Dealing with a gender bias

  • Feminism

    • We must understand behaviour in terms of social construction and not biological differences

    • We must change views of the ‘facts of gender’

    • Some feminist psychologists go as far as to argue women are inferior as to give them more support from the psychological world

  • Reverse Alpha bias

    • Emphasise gender differences

  • Avoiding beta bias

    • Lack of focus on the real differences

    • E.g. women should have longer maternity due to changes in their bodies

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