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Gender bias means that one gender is treated in a more or less favourable way, based on gender stereotypes rather than real differences. In psychology, this affects research as it can impact the way genders are studied. It can also affect the way results of such studies are applied. Gender bias can cause misleading or inaccurate scientific results, maintain gender stereotyping, and justify gender discrimination.
Bias is a false or inaccurate perception about a group of people or a set of beliefs. These perceptions are often based on stereotypes relating to characteristics such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. Everyone is biased to a certain extent; however, if bias is not acknowledged it can cause harm.
A white person may be biased against a non-white person because they associate a certain skin colour with a lack of intelligence, moral inferiority, and the like. At the same time, a person of colour may feel negatively biased towards a white person for no other reason than the colour of their skin. These are not accurate perceptions.
We now consider how gender bias appears in psychology.
This refers to the exaggeration of the differences between men and women. Alpha bias emphasizes the stereotypical differences or characteristics between men and women. Alpha bias makes one gender, usually male, seem 'better' than the other. This usually involves the devaluation of the less 'superior' gender.
An example of this is Freud's suggestion that girls have weaker superegos than boys because they do not experience an Oedipus complex. Weaker superegos imply weaker or more inferior morality. According to Freud, girls are morally inferior because they are unable to resolve the Oedipus conflict as successfully as boys. The image below shows a typical representation of gender stereotyping.
This refers to the minimization of the differences between men and women. This is in contrast to alpha bias. For example, a psychological study with male and female participants may result in the same findings for both genders without additional research to consider gender differences. There are two types of beta bias.
Androcentrism refers to the idea did male thinking and behaviour is 'normal', whilst female thinking and behaviour is 'abnormal'. An example of this is using only male participants in a psychological study and applying results to everyone. Any behaviour which deviates from this is likely to be judged negatively.
Gynocentrism refers to the idea that female thinking and behaviour is 'normal' whilst male thinking and behaviour is 'abnormal'. For example, using only female participants in a psychological study and applying results to everyone. Any behaviour which deviates is likely to be judged negatively.
Emphasizing gender differences can reinforce gender stereotypes and discriminatory behaviour. This can lead to the view that one gender is inferior because of these differences. For example, male applicants for a job may be preferred over female applicants because they may be seen as more competent leaders or decision-makers. Similarly, female applicants may be preferred over male applications for professions requiring more sensitivity and empathy, such as teaching or therapy. We can hold such gender stereotypes without realizing it.
Stereotypes created from seeking research have been used to justify male dominance in political, educational, and social contexts. Some psychologists state that the differences between men and women are not as great as they are claimed to be.
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between actual gender differences and culturally created gender differences. Therefore, some claims made through alpha bias may actually be a result of cultural values and perceptions.
Here are some examples of the different types of gender bias in psychological research.
Freud reinforced gender stereotypes based on physical differences between men and women. He claimed that physical differences meant that there were also psychological differences.
Freud established traditional roles and gender stereotypes based on sex. Deviations from such roles were considered abnormal.
Freud theorized that women have 'penis envy', especially if they had career ambitions as this meant they wanted to be like men.
Kohlberg's findings on moral development were generalized to women despite collecting data from only male participants. He claimed that women do not morally develop as much as men do. Kohlberg's classification system was based on justice.
Gilligan criticized Kolhberg's findings and claimed that women make moral decisions based on relationships rather than justice, which is why they might appear to have a lower level of moral reasoning under Kohlberg's system.
However, the differences between men and women's moral reasoning may not be as different as Gilligan's research shows.
Gender bias means that one gender is treated in a more or less favorable way, based on gender stereotypes rather than real differences. It is a belief or set of beliefs that one gender is superior or inferior.
One may not be able to avoid gender bias entirely as everyone has some level of bias. Most people may not even realize they are biased. However, recognizing one's own bias and understanding it may reduce its negative impact. This can be done through education; for example, an employer may provide training for employees to help them acknowledge and reduce bias.
What is gender bias?
Gender bias is the more favorable or unfavorable perception or treatment of any gender group.
How can gender bias affect psychological research?
Gender bias can affect psychological research if it is not conducted fairly or produces misleading or inaccurate findings. Research can also be impacted if it is overly generalized or based on cultural values rather than scientific factors. An example of gender bias is using all-male participants to study human behavior; this is because the results will be applied to everyone even though there were no female participants.
Which one of the following is NOT a type of beta bias?
Is it considered alpha bias if a study suggests that female brains are more inclined to make decisions based on morality whilst male brains are more likely to make decisions based on their own interests?
Yes. Alpha bias exaggerates the differences between men and women and appears to favor one gender over the other. In this case, the study makes females seem 'better' than their male counterparts.
What is one disadvantage of alpha bias?
One disadvantage of alpha bias is that the differences betwen men and women may sometimes come from cultural values, which can be hard to distinguish in psychological findings. Other correct answers include: there are differences within genders, alpha bias upholds stereotypes and justifies discrimination, the differences may not exist as much as portrayed, and alpha bias appears to maintain male dominance in several contexts.
Which of the following is considered to be gender bias?
The final study contains gender (gynocentric) bias as there are generalized findings to all human beings when only one gender was studied. The findings make assumptions about male amnesiac patients without studying them for any differences.
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