Gender bias in psychology
Examples of gender bias
Why is gender bias an issue?
When we discussed cultural bias, we referred to Hare-Mustin and Maracek's paper on alpha and beta bias. In fact, their article focused on gender bias rather than cultural bias, so it is even more appropriate to use it here. As with cultural bias, gender bias may result in the erroneous identification of gender differences.
Alpha and beta bias
Alpha-biased theories assume there are real and enduring differences: in the case of gender bias these are real differerences between men and women. Beta-biased theories tend to ignore or minimise differences, in this case between men and women. Such theories tend eithier to ignore questions about the lives of women, or assume that insights derived from studies of men will apply equally well to women. There is an androcentric bias in psychology, i.e. theories and studies tend to be written by or conducted by men. Therefore beta-biased theories/studies tend to favour the male perspective.
An example of alpha bias Freud's theory of psychosexual development is an example of an alpha-biased theory because he viewed feminity as failed masculinity. In his discussion of female development, Freud claimed that 'we must not allow ourselves to ... regard the two sexes as completely equal in position and worth' (Freud,1925). As Josselson (1988) points out, 'Classical psychoanalytic theory is grounded in the genital inferiority of women and deduces their moral inferiority as well'. The 'deficiency' of women was, according to Freud, caused by the absence of penis. In this theory, women are seen as being inferior to men because they are jealous of men's penises (penis envy) and because they cannot undergo the same Oedipus conflict as boys do (which involves catration anxiety). Because the superego develops from the Oedipus conflict, women must therefore be morally inferior.
An example of beta bias Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning. This theory had an…