Controversies - Gender Bias

Gender Bias is the differential treatment or representation of men and women based on stereotypes rather than real differences. This bias can exist in the way that research is carried out e.g. biased sampling or in theories that are biased in favour of a particular gender. The bias is underemphasising the differences between genders. E.g. Milgram used only male participants in his study on obedience which underemphasises the difference between males and females. [3]

Discuss the issue of Gender Bias in Psychology (22 marks)
- Alpha Bias:
is the tendency to identify or exaggerate gender differences, theories criticised for Alpha Bias are usually described as gendercentric which assumes males and females have separate paths and emphasises their differences.

- Beta Bias:
tends to ignore or minimise gender differences, theories criticised for beta bias are usually androcentric. These theories tend to offer an interpretation of women based on the understanding of the lives of men so underemphasises their differences.

Buss (1989) – research on 37 cultures into male & female mate preferences
= > women than men desired mates who were ‘good financial prospects’ – quality of resource acquisition.
= men found physical attractiveness important & wanted younger mates – valuing fertility.
=Attractiveness valued by all men in 37 samples & 62% valued Chasity – offspring
Criticised for Alpha Bias because;
Buss overemphasised differences between male and females mate preferences
therefore research is guilty of being gendercentric because Buss clearly differentiated between the different paths males and females would take when selecting a partner.

- Evolutionary psychology = tendency to use evolutionary explanations to explain why men
 tend to be dominant over women and why women have a much greater parental investment. H! Past 100 years there have been major cultural changes, so it is argued that the evolutionary perspective should not be used to justify gender differences. Is guilty of underemphasising similar features that both genders preferred such as intelligence & kindness.

- Publication Bias may have been an issue as males biased editors will often filter out research on women & studies that report no difference or findings contrary to male opinion. This leaves the researcher in a position where they have to report their findings in a biased way in order to get published.

- Wider implications of such research on the lives of the women. It is often thought that such findings reinforce sexual stereotyped behaviour & encourage sexual inequality as Buss concludes that evolutionary theory is correct and males are driven to have multiple


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