Discuss gender and cultural bias in psychological research

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Discuss gender and cultural bias in psychological research

One theory that holds gender bias is Freud’s psychodynamic theory. Freud represented women in an undesirable way, suggesting that their super egos were less developed because they hadn’t experienced castration anxiety. He argued that women couldn’t become fully developed because they cannot resolve the conflict with their parent as well as a boy can meaning that they don’t really identify with their mother. This could be because most of his case studies were based on Viennese women, most of whom had mental health problems, which could have led him to assume that all women acted that way. This is alpha-biased because it exaggerates differences between men and women and undervalues women, who were already classed as second-class citizens in Victorian society. However, it can be argued that, although his theory is clearly gender biased, he was in fact acting in line with the with the cultural sexism at the time rather than giving a objective view of male and female development. This has implications for the 21st century because it suggests to us that women are inferior to men.

Other theories in psychology tend to conduct the experiment on males and then generalise the results to females, even though the results may not be representative of women. An example of this is Friedman and Rosenman’s study into the link between personality and stress, which is androcentric because it assumes that male nature is human nature. They conducted a study into the link between personality and cardiovascular diseases; they found that those with type A personality were much more likely to die from a cardiovascular disease than those who were type B. Their sample group were all male, and the norms they used to define the difference between type A and B personalities were typically male; e.g. competitive, hostile and impatient, whereas women may have different personality traits and types and so they cannot be generalised to the male version – it ignores personality factors in women with cardiovascular diseases. This is an example of beta bias.

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Asch’s study on majority influence is also culturally biased in a similar way to Friedman and Rosenman’s study. The aim was to see many people would conform to give the wrong answer about line length when the right answer was unambiguous. Eagly and Carli claim that the task involved an activity that was more familiar to men and so the experiment was beta biased. All participants were also male, and so this uses a biased sample group and then generalises the results to the whole population. A meta-analysis found that in conformity experiments, male experimenters typically find a difference in ...

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