Casual Discussion Science Forum @scivillage

Full Version: Cure for psychology's woes: Add more political presuppositions & cognitive filters
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
‘Representation and methodology need to change’

INTRO: Dr Rose Capdevila is Senior Lecturer at The Open University, and Chair of the BPS Psychology of Women & Equalities Section (POWES). For International Women’s Day, Deputy Editor Dr Annie Brookman-Byrne asks the questions.

The Section was originally founded in 1988 as The Psychology of Women Section. Tell us about the change to incorporate Equalities.

The reason for the name change, the addition of ‘equalities’, was to allow for a fuller representation of our membership and to better reflect the development of research in this area. As we argued in the application for the name change, the addition of ‘equalities’ meant that the section could recognise the breadth of work on/by women and/in psychology as well as more intersectional research which draws on the relationship between gender and the body, class, race, sexuality and other markers of difference. Conceptually, our focus has always been on the psychology of women as an issue of equality and social justice. The name change made this explicit and the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of it.

What do you think needs to change in the psychology curriculum to address gender issues and inequalities?

That’s a huge question. Primarily, I think, we need to stop assuming that the experience of one group is the experience of all groups. We have a long history of psychologists pointing out how our discipline can fall short in terms of representation – from Mary Calkins’ Community of ideas of men and women in 1896 to Robert Guthrie’s Even the Rat was White in 1976 to Carole Tavris’ 1992 The Mismeasure of Woman and countless others. More recently, we’ve all been reminded that psychological data are still dominated by samples from Western, educated, industrialised, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) populations (Henrich, Heine & Norenzayan, 2010; Muthukrishna et al. 2020) and that this has a direct impact on the claims that can be made. To be fair, psychology has made some efforts to respond to these critiques and there has been some progress (Eagly et al, 2012)… but not nearly enough. This is because it is not simply a question of adding in a few variables or diversifying your study sample.

If we want a curriculum that represents our world and our values, we need to think about how we go about producing knowledge in line with those and consider how power is playing out in the process. As feminist psychologists have been arguing for decades, we need to think more carefully about methodology. So, I would say, two things in particular need to change: representation and methodology. Currently, I am working with Dr Hannah Frith on a book that compliments current methods provision from a feminist perspective. It is part of the Feminist Companions series which draws together feminist research and theory in each area of the psychology curriculum. You can find more information about this in the POWES Newsletter.

Tell us about the most exciting feminist and emancipatory research and theory at the moment.

There is so much wonderful work going on at the moment. It’s great to see how many researchers are embedding feminist and emancipatory approaches in their work. In the last decade we’ve seen feminism go from being an ‘f-word’ to becoming part of everyday talk in popular culture. For many young people it’s become a taken for granted. What’s most exciting is how much excellent work is being done..... (MORE)

RELATED: Psychology is in a replication crisis. The PSA is trying to fix it.