Examining gamma bias
I’m concerned by the examples in Martin Seager and John Barry’s letter on ‘gamma bias’ (April 2020).
Whilst in theory the gamma bias proposal may have some purpose, the examples of firemen and domestic violence perpetrators were frankly inappropriate on a number of levels.
Firefighters are called firefighters because that’s the job description – there is no longer gender bias, that’s the point. The number of firefighters who are women increases each year, now that discrimination in hiring requirements and practices has reduced.
On the domestic violence front, Women’s Aid noted in 2016, ‘there is a small but significant number of women who commit domestic abuse… figures from Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) VAWG report show… 92.4 percent of defendants being men and 7.6 percent women. This year, the CPS report also showed that violent crimes against women in England and Wales had reached a record-high.
‘We know that the domestic abuse women experience as victims is far more dangerous and severe than that experienced by male victims. In particular, they are much more likely to be killed – 97 percent of female domestic homicide victims in the 2014-2015 CPS VAWG report were killed by a man. By comparison, about a third of the far smaller number of male domestic homicide victims were killed by a woman.’
Whilst the number of prosecutions of women has increased for domestic abuse crimes, the chances of women being killed by a male partner, husband, father, brother are far far higher. To blur the factual evidence with the claim that this is in someway a ‘cognitive distortion’ is disturbing.
I understand that the authors are looking to balance the four quadrants of their gamma bias theory but I feel that they dismiss the impact of the ‘doing harm (perpetration)’ quadrant – particularly given the increase in domestic violence incidents during lockdown and the number of people needing refuge (note I say people, not women, albeit I’m sure that the figures would fit the national statistic trend as above).
Work is required to improve the psychological health of men, as well as to reduce perpetration by men. It does nobody any favours to imply that the harm is not really there.
University of Manchester
BPS Members can discuss this article
Already a member? Or Create an account
Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber