Up Learn – A Level Psychology (AQA) – ISSUES AND DEBATES
What is Gender Bias?
Gender bias is when the differences between men and women are misrepresented. And gender bias can occur in all research methods!
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Issues and Debates
We’ve now seen that, just like the Boston Symphony Orchestra, psychologists can suffer from gender bias.
Now, in the research methods section, we saw that sometimes researchers display personal bias, meaning…
Sometimes, researchers display personal bias, meaning they are not objective in their research.
And we’ve seen it crop up in a few different research methods.
For instance, in an observation, researchers sometimes see what they expect to see.
Like when Charlie observes the behaviour of people who didn’t give up their seat on the bus to a pregnant woman, to find out how guilty they feel.
Charlie thinks that glancing over at the pregnant woman might be a sign that they feel guilty, so she decides to measure how often these people glance over at her.
Now, this behaviour is harder to measure and interpret; sometimes, it might seem like a person is glancing over at the pregnant woman… when actually, they’re looking straight past her, at the screen announcing the next bus stop.
Charlie’s expectations that the person is feeling guilty might make her more likely to think that the person is glancing over at the pregnant woman, and this will affect her measurements.
Now, when bias like this occurs during an observation, we call it.
When bias like this occurs during an observation, we call it observer bias.
Likewise, during an interview, a researcher may behave differently, depending on the participant.
For instance, suppose a researcher is looking at people’s attitudes to Remembrance Sunday… but, during the interviews, he talks to the old and young people differently – he’s very polite to the old participants, and condescending to the younger ones.
This may cause the old participants to respond positively, and the young participants to respond negatively…which will confound his results.
Now, one widespread form of bias in psychology is gender bias, which is when researchers make mistakes about the differences between men and women.
And, another way of saying that they ‘make mistakes’ about these differences….is that they misrepresent the differences.
And gender bias can happen in all kinds of research methods.
For instance, Keith’s doing a study of indecisive behaviour.
He observes men and women shopping for shoes.
But every time the women hesitate, he records it as indecisive behaviour.
Whereas every time the men hesitate, he records it as reasoningbehaviour.
And so, his results make it seem like the difference between men and women is far bigger than it actually is.
Or, alternatively, an interviewer may talk very politely to all the female participants, but very brashly to all of the men…meaning that investigator effects become a confounding variable.
So, to sum it up, personal bias is when researchers lack objectivity in conducting research.
And, specifically, gender bias is when the differences between men and women are misrepresented.
And gender bias can occur in all research methods!