Gender Bias - The differential
treatment or representation of
genders based on stereotypes rather
than real differences.
1 Types of Bias
1.1 Alpha Bias - This is where sex
differences are exaggerated. The
consequences lead to theories
devaluing one gender in
comparison to the other
1.1.1 An example of alpha bias is Freud's theory of
psychoanalysis in which he viewed femininity
as failed masculinity which devalues females
and exaggerates the differences between males
1.2 Beta Bias - This is wehre sex differences are
minimised or ignored. Such studies tend to ignore
questions about the lives of women or assume
insights derived from studies of men will apply
equally well to women.
1.2.1 An example of beta bias in psychology is the studies on the fight or fight
response. Research assumed that male and female animals would respond
the same when put in the same stress filled environment so tests were only
done on male animals so that different hormones would not affect results.
Later research on female animals found that females actually tend and
befriend instead or fight or flight.
1.3 Androcentrism - This s where
studies and research is centred or
focused on men which often leads
to the exclusion or neglect or
1.3.1 An example of androcentrism in psychology
are Asch's studies on conformity as all
research done purely on male participants.
1.4 Gynocentrisim - This is where studies
and research is centred or focused on
1.4.1 An example of gynocentrism in psychology is
Moscovici's study on minority influence
where only female participants were used.
1.5 Universality - This is the aim
to develop theories that
apply to all people which
may include real differences.
2 Evaluation points
2.1 One of the main limitations of psychological research is the issue of gender
bias often goes unchallenged. For example, Darwin's established theory of
sexual selection suggests that women are selective in terms of mate
selection. These views have only recently been challenged by DNA evidence
suggesting that women are equally as competitive as men when the need
arises. This highlights the importance of continually challenging earlier
gender research, and reducing gender bias to ensure that a valid picture of
women is portrayed in contemporary studies.
2.2 Contemporary psychologists have looked for ways to reduce gender bias,
proposing a number of solutions. For example, some psychologists
attempt to develop theories that emphasise the importance and/or the
value of women. Cornwell et al. noted that females are better at learning,
as they are more attentive and organised, thus emphasising both the
value and the positive attributes of women. As a result, this type of
research helps to reduce or challenge gender stereotypes, which is
important in reducing gender bias.
2.3 Another way to reduce gender bias is to take a feminist approach which attempts to
restore the imbalance in both psychological theories and research. For example,
feminist psychology accepts that there are biological differences between males and
females. Research by Eagly actually claims that females are less effective leaders
than males. However, the purpose of Eagly's claim was to help researchers develop
training programmes aimed at reducing the lack of female leaders in the real-world.
2.4 However, not all psychologists agree with Eagly and some psychologists claim that males and
females are not significantly different and that it is the research methodology used in gender
research which is biased, resulting in males and females appearing when they are not. This is
important because it could reduce the validity of gent theories and research, resulting in an alpha
bias. However, this can also result in a beta bias, which on the one hand promotes equal treatment
but on the other also draws attention away from important differences between males and