Gender Bias - The differential treatment or representation of genders based on stereotypes rather than real differences.

Anya Riley
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Issues and Debates psychology gender bias

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Anya Riley
Created by Anya Riley about 2 years ago
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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 and females.
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 women
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 women.
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 females.

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