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Discuss gender bias in social influence research

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Introduction

Discuss gender bias in social influence research Gender bias is 'the separation of gender which prefers one sex over the other' it takes place in psychology and therefore this sexism pervades much psychological research including research studies and theories. Two of the main biases in psychology are alpha bias and beta bias. Most psychological theories and research theories are alpha biased. Alpha bias refers to the traditional view of gender differences that see real and enduring sex differences. Some alpha biased theories are used to heighten the value of women (e.g. Gilligan's theory of moral development) but many are used to devalue women. ...read more.

Middle

Beta bias is much more prevalent in research studies than psychological theories because a great deal of psychological investigations use all-male samples and then generalise the findings gained from these to women. Consequently they make the assumption that findings gained from men apply equally to women because there are no real enduring differences. Indeed a great deal of groundbreaking studies that remain very influential today have used all-male samples and then generalised these findings to females. For example, Milgram's (1963) original obedience study, Zimbardo et al's (1974) Prisoner and guards study. One very famous classic and influential research study that assumes a beta bias is Asch's (1951) ...read more.

Conclusion

In support of Asch's generalisation from males to females Eagly and Steffen (1984) used both male and female participants in their study and found that men and women conform as frequently as each other suggesting that Asch may have been right to assume no real enduring differences in male and female conformity behaviour and therefore was right to generalise his findings. Nevertheless there is also evidence that Asch was wrong to generalise his findings gained on conformity behaviour from males to females. For example a number of research studies have shown that there is a significant difference in male and female conformity behaviour. For example research by Cooper (1979) has shown that women conform more than men thus supporting alpha bias. Therefore there may well be strong enduring differences in conformity behaviour and Asch's generalisations may have been inappropriate. ...read more.

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