Gamma bias

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Gamma bias refers to a theory of cognitive gender bias developed by Seager & Barry (2019).[1]

Gamma bias refers to the operation of two concurrent biases: alpha bias (exaggerating or magnifying gender differences) and beta bias (ignoring or minimizing gender differences). Gamma bias occurs when one gender difference is minimized while simultaneously another is magnified, resulting in a doubling of cognitive distortion.[2]

The authors state that gamma bias works by magnifying women’s issues and achievements and minimizing men’s issues and achievements. Alternatively, the dynamic is reversed and employed to minimize negative female traits and behaviors, while magnifying or exaggerating negative male traits or behaviors.

Theories on the purpose of gamma bias

Hypotheses regarding the growth of gamma bias and the disfavoring of males include evolutionary pressures for males to protect and provide for women which involves a reluctance to view men as vulnerable, or alternatively the sociological explanation of 'ingroup' and 'outgroup' bias which may have developed around men and women in the form of social conventions.[3]

A further explanation is provided by gynocentrism theory [4] which posits an increase of narcissism among women in the context of heterosexual relationships and exchanges, demonstrating what Robert Millman has called 'acquired situational narcissism'[5]. Gamma bias is used to support this dynamic and ensure that women are beneficiaries of narcissistic reassurance. This theory further assumes that gamma bias can be witnessed in most ‘narcissist to non-narcissist’ relationships.

Examples of gamma bias

Graphic providing examples of 'gamma bias'

See Also