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Define Alpha Bias

A Tendency to exaggerate differences between men and women. The consequences is that theories devalue one gender in comparison to the other


Define Androcentrism

Centered or focused on men, often to the neglect or exclusion of women.


Define Beta Bias

A tendency to ignore or minimise differences between men and women. Such theories tend either to ignore questions about the lives of women, or assume that insights derived from studies of men will apply equally well to women.


Define Gender Bias

The differential Treatment or representation of men and women based on stereotypes rather than real differences


Define Universality

The Aim to develop theories that apply to all people which may include real differences


Gender Bias In Psychology

Differential treatment or representations of men and women based on stereotypes rather than real differences is known as gender bias. Psychology tends to be male-dominated, resulting in theories that represent a male world view (Androcentrism) This may result in either alpha or beta bias


Explain Alpha Bias

Theories with alpha bias exaggerate differences men and women and devalue one gender compared to the other.
This was a criticism of Freud's psychodynamic approach where females are seen as morally inferior because they cannot fully resolve the Oedipus conflict as successfully as male do


Explain Beta Bias

Beta Bias occurs when what is assumed to be true for men is applied to women. Differences between them are erroneously minimised and the needs to one gender (Usually female) may be ignored.

Example as it was assumed that the "Fight or Flight" response to stress was universal but females are more likely to "tend and befriend"


Explain Universality

Eradicating Gender differences does not resolve gender bias and is a form of beta bias. The solutions lies in universality: reasoning differences but not the superiority of one gender over another


Gender Bias Evaluation:
Feminist Psychology

Feminist Psychologists Gilligan challenge Androcentrism.
Psychology is thought to arise from biological explanations of behaviour.
Conversely the feminist approach aims to explain it in terms of social constructions and thus promote greater equality.
Biologically based sex differences are acknowledged but other differences are more due to social stereotypes that perpetuate beliefs about women.
Revision of these should facilitate change in gender roles. Rather than believing women cannot be leaders they could be trained trained to lead.


Gender Bias Evaluation:
Bias in research methods

If researchers believe there are gender difference s their research questions and methods may perpetuate the bias.
Rosenthal found that male experimenters treated male and female participants differently, leading to better female performance.
Feminists argue that findings from a controlled lab environment may have ecological validity.
Example in real settings women and men were judged as more similar in leadership styles compared to in lab settings.


Gender Bias Evaluation:
Avoiding Beta Bias

Beta bias has consequences for women. EG legal removal of barriers to occupational opportunities.

However assuming equality masks women particular needs and power differences between them and men. EG equal parental leave ignores the biological demands of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding therefore disadvantaging women.


Gender Bias Evaluation:
Assumptions need to be examined.

Examples of gender bias sometimes continue unchallenged.
For examples Darwin's theory of sexual selection assumes that females are choosy because of their relatively greater investment in reproduction,
While males compete with each other.

However women can be as competitive as males; DNA evidence suggests that a good adaptive strategy for females is to mate with more than one man, thus encouraging competition with other females.


Kohlberg Study: Process

Kohlbergs theory of moral development involved presenting participants with moral dilemmas and asking them to describe what response would be appropriate


Kohlberg Study: Findings

He suggested that male moral decisions were based on an ethic of justice. This is an example of beta bias because he assumed the male standards would apply to all people. He also found that women were less morally developed than men - a classic alpha bias outcome.


Kohlberg Study: Variations

Gilligan pointed out that the dilemmas used by Kohlberg were biased towards justice rather than care, leading to exaggerated differences between men and women.
Gilligans own work showed that women favoured a care orientations, whereas men favoured a justice orientation; Thus they differ from men, but neither gender is better.


Gender Bias Theory

Sigmund Freud’s theories reflected the culture in which he lived. In the 19th century, men were more powerful and more educated, and regarded as superior to women. In his alpha-biased theory of psychoanalysis, Freud viewed femininity as failed masculinity – He exaggerated the difference between men and women. In his theory, women are seen as being inferior to men because they are jealous of men’s penises, known as Penis Envy, and because they cannot undergo the same Oedipus conflict as boys do, which involves castration anxiety. Because the superego develops from the Oedipus conflict, women therefore must be morally inferior because they have a weaker identification with their mothers.


Gender Bias Study`

An example of this is Milgram (1963) who studied obedience using an all-male sample. In his original study, he found that 65% of participants conformed. Milgram was criticized for not using females in his study and generalising male findings with the wider population. To counter argue this Milgram did a follow up study and used an all-female sample. In this follow up study, he found again 65% conformity rate. This makes it a beta bias as he has minimalised he difference between men and women.