Are we gender bias?

Sunday, March 11th, 2012


Is gender bias still an issue in psychological research today? And does this research only really tell us about male behaviour? Simone de Beauvoir (1949) stated the, ‘Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the truth’.

Hare-Mustin and Maracek suggested two ways in which gender bias can formulate in psychological studies, Alpha Bias and Beta Bias.

Alpha bias is the tendency to assume that there were real and permanent differences between males and females. Freud’s research into psychosexual development is a strong example of alpha bias in psychology because he viewed females as being inferior and jealous of their male counterparts.


Alternatively, Beta bias is the tendency to minimise the differences between males and females and assuming that females are similar to males in all aspects. Kohlberg’s research into moral reasoning is an example of beta bias because he assumed that the results he obtained from questioning men about moral dilemmas would apply to women.

As most studies are conducted by men, and most participants are male too, it can be difficult to completely remove all forms of gender bias from a study. Sampling may be biased, as in Zimbardo’s and Milgram’s studies, which then leads to generalizing results from all male research to women. Also, gender biased hypotheses may encourage stereotypical beliefs about gender differences between males and females and promote inaccurate beliefs about female behaviour.

All in all, I believe that gender bias is still an issue in some aspects, but with the development of science and the way we conduct our research now, it has become less of an issue than it was in the past. With more and more female psychologists now conducting their own studies and the issue of gender bias being more apparent, I believe that gender bias towards males will eventually be subdued with time.

Thank you for reading 😀



6 comments on “Are we gender bias?

  1. leylaosman says:

    interesting blog. It has been looked into and claimed by female psychologists that research ignores women and preferring to just presume that their development and behaviour is the same as men (Nicolson) (1).

    You mentioned Freud psychosexual theory being alpha biased. This theory also criticised women as being less morally developed then men. His study and opinions were making it acceptable for women to be treated as second class citizens throughout Victorian society and women were denied vote and refused professional jobs. It has been argued that Freud was simply using the views of the time to build cultural sexism into his theory, rather then using an objective view in his study.

    You mentioned Kohlberg Moral development. This beta theory was criticised that women were not morally inferior to men, just spoke in a different moral voice of care and responsibility rather then male view of justice (Giligan) (2).

    Throughout Psychology Females have tended to be ignored. The theory of lifespan by Levinson and Erikson (3) focused purely on male development and presumed female development was the same and followed males. This is known as androcentric bias as looks purely at ‘normal’ behaviour coming from males. This obviously leads to bias of what is normal behaviour.




  2. psyalo says:

    Good blog! Adding to what you have already said according to Piercy et al. (2003) found that there has been a large increase of women into the labor for in the U.S. and Europe. Gilligan (1982) Suggested that women may make moral decisions in a different way to men. I do believe that there may still be gender bias in some research today, even though it is on the decrease. However, Maccoby & Jacklin (1974) said that there is no significant differences between sexes. Although, personally I believe that how some people react in SONA studies may depend on the gender of the researcher, especially if the experiment involves a questionnaire.

  3. psuc0e says:

    Good blog 🙂 However, are studies really carried out on more men? I’m basing this purely on what we do here with our SONA studies, but given that it is open only to psychology students, there is much larger number of females on the course than males. In this case the studies carried out are going to be basing their results on the results of more females than males (look at the study from the pop-out test we went through in small groups and the number of males/females who took part).

    Still, thats only here. If we have a look at studies carried out into crime and criminal behaviour, the number of women studied as to why they carried out such crimes is almost non-existent as there are so few women in prison compared to males, especially for serious (murder, etc) crimes. In this case, the research carried out on offenders is generally done on men and generalised to females too.

    I think that despite how much we try to avoid a gender bias, dependent on what we’re studying or where we carry out the study, such biases will be almost impossible to avoid, and we just have to make sure we have made the reader of the report that this was the case. That, and make the best of what we have available too.

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