GENDER + CULTURE (Issues and Debates Model Answers) (Paper 3 Model Answers)
Discuss gender bias in psychological research. Refer to one topic you have studied in your answer. ( 8 marks)
Gender bias in psychological research refers to the tendency to overlook or misinterpret gender differences, leading to a skewed understanding of human behavior and perpetuating stereotypes and prejudice. Historically, there has been a predominance of research based on samples of men, which fails to consider adequately the differences between men and women. This failure can result in both alpha bias and beta bias.
Alpha bias occurs when there is an overemphasis on the differences between men and women. For example, in the research on mental illness, anxiety was labelled as a typically "female" symptom, a notion rooted in the historical concept of hysteria introduced by Freud. This labelling disregards the possibility that anxiety can affect individuals of all genders.
Beta bias, on the other hand, underestimates the differences between men and women. For instance, research on moral development by Kohlberg suggested that women's morality might be less sophisticated than that of men. This perspective fails to acknowledge the diverse ways in which individuals of all genders can develop moral reasoning.
Furthermore, the overemphasis on the importance of biology as the sole driver of behavior contributes to gender bias. For instance, evolutionary theories have perpetuated the idea that promiscuity in men is normal and acceptable, while it is considered abnormal and unacceptable in women. This narrow view fails to account for the complex interplay of biology, socialisation, and cultural factors that shape human behavior.
The consequences of gender bias in psychological research extend beyond academia. The interpretation of findings and conclusions from biased research can reinforce societal prejudices and stereotypes, leading to discrimination and inequality. Gender bias can also result in androcentrism, the belief that men's behavior represents the norm, which then labels women's behavior as abnormal.
To address gender bias, it is crucial to promote the idea that men and women are more similar than they are different, emphasising universality. Recognising that not all members of a sex are the same helps challenge stereotypical assumptions. Additionally, researchers should strive to include diverse samples, studying women in women-only environments when necessary, to provide a more comprehensive understanding of human behavior.
Outline what is meant by cultural relativism.( 2 marks)
Cultural relativism is the perspective that a behaviour can only be properly understood, has meaning, or makes sense in the context of the norms and values of the society or culture in which it occurs. This viewpoint emphasises that different cultures have their own unique set of beliefs, practices, and social structures, and therefore, judgments or evaluations of behavior should be made within the cultural framework in which it is embedded.
Suggest two ways in which researchers might reduce cultural bias in their research. ( 2 marks)
To reduce cultural bias in their research, researchers can avoid extrapolating findings or theories to cultures that are not represented in the research sample: Researchers should be cautious about generalising their findings beyond the specific culture or population they have studied.
Another strategy is to researchers who are native to, familiar with, or immersed in the culture being investigated. This is to gain a deeper understanding of a particular culture, researchers can collaborate with individuals who have first hand experience and knowledge of that culture.
Which two of the following are examples of ethnocentrism?
Shade two boxes only.
When a Chinese researcher:
C expects people from other countries to behave in the same way as people from China.
D thinks that people from China are superior to people from other countries.
A Cultural relativism
A psychologist asked men aged 25 to 35 years to keep a diary record of how many miles they walked in a week. The psychologist also asked each man to climb a flight of stairs, then took each man’s heart rate. For each man, the number of miles walked in the week was correlated with heart rate after climbing stairs. The findings showed a significant negative correlation. A national newspaper reported the findings under the headline ‘Everyone should walk for a healthy heart’.
(a) Explain how the newspaper headline might be an example of beta bias. ( 2 marks)
The newspaper headline, "Everyone should walk for a healthy heart," might be an example of beta bias. Beta bias refers to underestimating or downplaying the differences between men and women. In this case, the study specifically focused on men aged 25 to 35 years. However, the newspaper headline suggests that the findings are applicable to "everyone," implying that the results can be generalised to both men and women of all ages.
(b) Briefly suggest one way in which psychologists might address the problem of beta bias in their research. ( 1 mark)
One way in which psychologists can address the problem of beta bias in their research is by ensuring a diverse and representative sample. By including participants from various demographic groups, such as both men and women of different age ranges, psychologists can reduce the potential for beta bias and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic under investigation.
(c) Explain one problem with the method used to determine the number of miles walked in the week. Suggest an alternative measure that would overcome this problem. ( 3 marks)
One problem with the method used to determine the number of miles walked in the week is reliance on self-reporting through diary records. Self-reporting methods are susceptible to memory biases and inaccuracies, which can affect the reliability and validity of the data collected. Participants may forget to record certain walks or inaccurately estimate the distances covered, leading to potential measurement errors.
An alternative measure that can overcome this problem is the use of objective measures, such as pedometers. These devices can be worn by participants and provide more accurate and objective data on the number of steps taken or distance covered during walking. By using objective measures, researchers can eliminate reliance on self-reporting and obtain more reliable and precise data on participants' walking behavior.
Briefly outline one problem associated with alpha bias in psychological research, and one problem associated with beta bias in psychological research.(4 marks)
One problem associated with alpha bias in psychological research is the misrepresentation of behavior. Alpha bias occurs when researchers or theorists overestimate or exaggerate gender differences. This can lead to a distorted understanding of the true nature of behavior, as it emphasises and amplifies the perceived disparities between men and women. By magnifying the differences, alpha bias can reinforce stereotypes, perpetuate gender inequality, and hinder the recognition of individual variation within each gender.
On the other hand, one problem associated with beta bias in psychological research is also a misrepresentation of behavior. Beta bias occurs when researchers or theorists underestimate or minimise gender differences. This approach downplays the variations between men and women, potentially overlooking important nuances in behavior that may be influenced by gender. By assuming that gender differences are negligible, beta bias can disregard the unique experiences, needs, and challenges faced by different genders, leading to an incomplete understanding of human behavior and contributing to the perpetuation of gender inequalities.