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Outline two types of gender bias in Psychology, and discuss gender bias in two or more psychological studies

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Introduction

Outline two types of gender bias in Psychology, and discuss gender bias in two or more psychological studies One type of gender bias is alpha bias. This is the tendency to exaggerate differences between males and females. An example of this is heightening the value of women (e.g. Gilligan's theory of moral development), and a contrasting example is devaluing them (e.g. Freud's theory of psychosexual development, which says that women develop inferior superegos). Another type of gender bias is beta bias, which is the tendency to overlook differences or exaggerate similarities between the sexes. This was an issue in Kohlberg's theory of the development of moral understanding, as his classifications were largely based on justice-based morality for both men and women, when it may be that women have different moral values. Many psychological studies have been criticised for being androcentric. An example of this is Milgram's (1963) research into obedience. ...read more.

Middle

Their conclusion was that the theory was supported and, while this is true to a certain extent, it overlooks the fact that the theory holds true for a maximum of 50% of participants. That is, it was not all males and no females who said that they sought a physically attractive partner. The research therefore demonstrates the alpha bias of both the theory and Dunbar's conclusions. In addition, the sample and setting of the theory may produce alpha bias. It may be that dating agencies augment gender differences in order to optimise success rates, even if this is not representative of real life. Subsequently, people submitting their own advertisements may conform to this norm of augmenting their own gender, therefore leading to a biased sample and, therefore, biased results. This research could be improved by using a more representative sample, such as using a random sample from a wide range of places for a questionnaire. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this may be seen as androcentric due to the criteria required for categorisation: the dilemmas were based on abstract principles of justice, which Gillian (1982) proposed was an inherently male method of thinking. This meant that Kohlberg's findings classified most women as being morally inferior to men because of the beta bias of the theory. Gilligan (1982), instead, proposed that women's morals are based on care and relationships, whilst those of men are based on justice. However, this theory shows alpha bias, and the existance of this bias is demonstrated by her own findings that roughly as many women base their morals on justice as on care. In fact, Walker (1984) found, in a meta-analysis of 108 studies, that only 8 studies showed overall gender differences in morality (which, ironically, displays beta-bias). It may be that the alpha- and beta-bias in such studies arise due to a lack of explanation of individual differences, as it is rarely the case that there are no differences between men and women, or that men and women are completely different. Clive Newstead ...read more.

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