Up Learn – A Level Psychology (AQA) – ISSUES AND DEBATES

Issues and Debates in Psychology: Introduction to Bias

When they’re conducting research, psychologists try to be as accurate and objective as possible. But nevertheless, researchers are often affected by bias.


A*/A guaranteed or your money back

Yes, really. Find out more about our A*/A Guarantee below.

More information

Want to see the whole course?

No payment info required!

Up Learn – A Level PsychologY (AQA)

Issues and Debates

Last time, we looked at the method of thematic analysis.

In the vast empty auditorium of Boston’s Symphony Hall, Rosa sat down, raised her violin to her chin, and started to play. 

This was the most important performance she had ever given. Today, the Boston Symphony Orchestra were holding auditions for their lead violinist.

Metres away from her, a panel of Boston’s top judges were scrutinising every quaver of her performance.

But, this year, for the first time, the judges were behind a curtain.

Boston Symphony Orchestra had decided to do blind auditions. 

As Rosa came to the end of her piece, rose, and walked off the stage, the judges recorded their verdicts.

After hundreds more musicians had played, and hours had passed, the judges had decided on their shortlist.

In the past, 95% of those who made it through to the orchestra were men.

And so people thought that women just couldn’t play as well as men.

This view was so widespread that it had certainly influenced the judges’ decisions in the past.

But all that was about to change, because now the judges couldn’t see who was playing.

But, when they looked at their list, they realised…

There were only 3 women on the list.

The blind auditions had made no difference! The shortlist was just as male dominated as it was last year!

The judges were shocked. What had happened? Had they just accidentally confirmed the prejudice that women just couldn’t be top-class musicians?

But then, the judges had an idea. They decided to redo the whole audition… but without shoes. 

They suspected that the footsteps of the musicians had given away their identity…

So when the judges had heard confident plodding male footsteps, they had expected the performance to be stronger…

But when they had heard the dainty tap tap tap of women’s shoes, they had expected an unimpressive performance.

So: even though the judges had been trying hard to concentrate on just selecting the best violinist… 

Their expectations had crept in without them noticing.

But in their socks, the musicians wouldn’t make a sound as they walked onto the stage.

After another painstaking day of auditions and judgements, they had produced a new shortlist.

This time, the number of women who had made it onto the shortlist was almost 50%!

The judges were astonished–they hadn’t realised how powerful their gender bias had been.

Now, when they’re conducting research, psychologists try to be as accurate and objective as possible. 

But, just like these judges, researchers are often affected by gender bias, which we’ll look at next!