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Discuss gender bias (alpha bias, beta bias and androcentrism) in psychological research?

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Discuss gender bias (alpha bias, beta bias and androcentrism) in psychological research? 30 marks One of the main criticisms that have been levelled against psychology is that it does not produce objective, value-free science. The assumption here, of course, is that an absolute 'truth' actually exists and that psychologists should be pursuing it with vigour. The natural scientists such as biologists and chemists firmly believe in this positivist stance that an absolute truth exists and denial of this must weaken any science and scientist that ignores it. The importance of this question is central to the nature of bias in research because if a value-free science can be achieved, then, psychology should be able to embrace this and eradicate bias. However, the very real possibility that there is no such thing as a totally value-free knowledge (i.e. one without prejudice or personal bias) means that gender bias as well as cultural and other biases will be impossible to remove, which is not to say that psychologists condone such practice, only the realisation that value-free knowledge represents a 'holy grail'. Psychology before the 1970s was riddled with gender biases. Early male psychologists such as Stanley Hall claimed that women should not be allowed into higher education because education increases the blood flow to the brain and away from the uterus. ...read more.


a male experimenter, who is in charge of the situation. How does gender bias help According to Kitzinger (1998) questions about sex differences (and similarities) aren't just scientific questions they are also political. Answers to some of these questions have been used to keep women out of universities, or to put them in mental hospitals. Others have been used to encourage women to go to assertiveness training courses, or to argue that women should have all the rights and opportunities as men. In other words science of sex differences research is always used for political reasons. According to Gilligan (1993) at the core of her work on moral development in women and girls were the realisations that within psychology values were taken as facts. Psychologists have a responsibility to make their values explicit about important social and political issues. Failure to do so may contribute to prejudice, discrimination and oppression. Alpha bias According to Travis, the belief that man is the norm and women is the opposite, lesser or deficient (the problem) constitutes one of the 3 alternative views regarding the mismeasure of women. Alpha bias underlines the enormous self-help industry. Women consume many books advising on beauty, independence and so on...Men being 'normal' feel no need to correspond in the same way. ...read more.


It portrays women as deviants (alpha bias) In one versions of his theory, Erickson (1950) describes a series of 8 universal; stages. So for example for both sexes, in all cultures the conflict between identity and role confusion (adolescence) precedes that between intimacy and isolation (young adult hood) In another version (Erickson's 1968) he acknowledges that the sequence is different for female. She postpones her identity as she prepares to attract the man whose name she will adopt, and by whose status she will be defined. For women intimacy seems to go along with identity - they come to know themselves through their relationship with others (Gilligan, 1982). Despite Erickson's observation of sex differences, the sequence of stages in his psychosocial theory remains unchanged as Gilligan says: 'identity continues to precede intimacy as male experience continues to define his (Erickson's) life - cycle concepts. Similarly, Kohlberg's (1969) 6 stage theory of moral development was based on a 20 longitudinal study of 84 boys. But he claims that these stages are universal. This represents beta bias. When males and females are compared, females rarely attain a level of moral reasoning above stage 3 (good boy - nice girl orientation). This is supposed to be achieved by most adolescents and adults. This leaves females looking decidedly morally deficient (alpha bias) Like other feminist psychologist, Gilligan argues that psychology speaks with a 'male voice'; this is describing the world from a male perspective and confusing this with absolute truth (beta bias). ...read more.

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