Gender issues in psychological research

There have been many times that we have come across examples of gender issues in psychology, for example:

Gender and obedience; in this topic we learnt about androcentrism. This is when psychologists studies and/or theories can be criticised for telling us more about the experience of males than females, often due to the fact that many of the most historic work was originally conducted men, due to women not being allowed to study/work  at some of the world; most prestigious universities until recent years. It seems hard to believe that at the time Milgram was working women were not allowed to study as undergraduates at Yale and although there were some post-graduate female researchers at Yale they were not allowed to use the same libraries as their male counterparts.

Research can be criticised for showing beta-bias if it erroneously minimises the role of potential differences between males and females, for example, some research is only done on men yet it is assumed that women would behave in the same way, even though here were no women in the sample.

However, sometimes researchers conduct studies to test whether gender does affect the behaviour in question and gender becomes the IV (making it a quasi-experiment).

However, when researchers expect gender differences it is possible that they will perceive differences that are perhaps rather minimal, and these differences will become over-exaggerated this is known as alpha bias.

In the gender and obedience topic we discussed the work of Carol Gilligan which was first discussed in her seminal book, “In a different voice” where she says that men and women may base their moral decision-making on differing perspectives. She conducted thematic analysis on the transcripts of interviews, where male and females Pps were asked to talk about various moral dilemmas. She spotted emergent themes relating to two differing  perspectives known as the ethic of justice (more commonly used by males) and the ethic of care (more commonly used by females).

You will have read about these in Year 12 on this website which talks about another famous theory in psychology which is criticised for being androcentric, Lawrence Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Reasoning, where it appears that women are less moral as their transcripts often were categorised as showing only Level 2 reasoning whereas men more often achieved Level 3. Gilligan argues that reasoning based on the ethic of care is NOT inferior but different and dependent upon our socialisation experiences. Males and females are exposed to different experiences due to gender stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination in society, which shape the way people think, feel and behave dependent on, amongst other social categories, our gender.