Feminism and psychology: Critiques of methods and epistemology

Alice H Eagly*, Stephanie Riger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Starting in the 1960s, many of the critiques of psychological science offered by feminist psychologists focused on its methods and epistemology. This article evaluates the current state of psychological science in relation to this feminist critique. The analysis relies on sources that include the PsycINFO database, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2010), and popular psychology methods textbooks. After situating the feminist critique within the late-20th-century shift of science from positivism to postpositivism, the inquiry examines feminists' claims of androcentric bias in (a) the underrepresentation of women as researchers and research participants and (b) researchers' practices in comparing women and men and describing their research findings. In most of these matters, psychology manifests considerable change in directions advocated by feminists. However, change is less apparent in relation to some feminists' criticisms of psychology's reliance on laboratory experimentation and quantitative methods. In fact, the analyses documented the rarity in high-citation journals of qualitative research that does not include quantification. Finally, the analysis frames feminist methodological critiques by a consideration of feminist epistemologies that challenge psychology's dominant postpositivism. Scrutiny of methods textbooks and journal content suggests that within psychological science, especially as practiced in the United States, these alternative epistemologies have not yet gained substantial influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-702
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Volume69
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Epistemology
  • Feminist psychology
  • Gender
  • Methodology
  • Methods textbooks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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