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Discuss gender bias in psychological theories and/or studies (e.g. androcentrism and alpha-beta-bias)

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Introduction

Discuss gender bias in psychological theories and/or studies (e.g. androcentrism and alpha-beta-bias) A theory frequently criticised for its gender bias is Kohlberg's theory of moral development, which describes the development of morality as a sequence of maturational stages which everyone passes through as they develop. Of the six stages, the first four have received support (e.g. Colby, who followed for 20 years the same groups of participants as Kohlberg used to develop his theory); but the final two are open to debate. Some research has found that women are much less likely than men to reach the final two stages. This would imply that women are unable to function on as high a moral level as men, and that, since the process is based on biological maturation, there is nothing they can do about it. It may be, however, that the theory is beta-biased, in that it overlooks the differences between men's and women's morality. ...read more.

Middle

This, combined with the gender-specific nature of the topic discussed in the interviews (justice dilemmas with Kohlberg and abortions with Gilligan) may have led to a very one-sided view of either sex. To overcome this, a theory could be developed whereby members of both sexes are interviewed and multiple topics that provoke moral decisions could be used. However, even this may produce gender-biased results, since there si research to suggest that women perform better in interviews than men due to having better verbal ability, so the results may once again be skewed. If this was overcome by using a different research method for either sex, the research would automatically contain alpha bias, and would render the results for both sexes incomparable. Another psychological theorist who has received much criticism for androcentrism in his theories is Freud, whose theory of psychosexual development is largely concerned with males, and goes as far as to suggest that women are inferior (a viewpoint which Freud himself defended). ...read more.

Conclusion

This is therefore an outdated idea, and as such an implication may be that the theory must be brought up to date to account for equality between the sexes. Research criticised for gender bias includes that of Milgram, whose electric shock experiment produced very influential results about obedience. The implications of this research were that, under the pressure of an authority figure, people will obey commands up to the point of killing another person - in effect, it could be used as a justification for atrocities such as the Holocaust and Stalin Purges. However, his research was conducted using a solely-male sample, and may therefore have produced androcentric results. It may be that women conform more, or less. Kilham and Mann found that 40% of male participants obeyed the researcher, compared with just 16% of female participants, in a replication of Milgram's study. This therefore demonstrates the androcentric nature of Milgram's study, and may go as far as invalidating its implications as a result. Clive Newstead ...read more.

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