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Gamma bias

By Phillip Hickox - posted Friday, 22 September 2023

The Gamma Bias and gender distortion matrix developed by psychologists Martin Seager and John Berry is reflected in the nursery rhyme

...What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails,
And puppy-dogs' tails...

...What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And all that's nice...

"I had been taught to read everything from through a feminist or at least gynocentric lens so it's always about you look at the women characters"; Professor Janice Fiamengo said during her interview with Paul Elam.


Female characters were interpreted as having limited options, that they were hemmed in as they struggled to overcome the various limitations that denied her life possibilities, her heroic struggle.

In contrast she said, she was taught to view the male characters through a feminist stereotypical lens as to one of being privileged and patriarchal!

How is this man privileged?

Authors of literature were viewed as either fighting against the patriarchal narrative or in someway as being complicit in strengthening and promulgating the patriarchal narrative.

How is this male character and his assumptions about women inform his attitudes and his actions and how is the author either resisting (you) know patriarchal narratives or in some way complicit with them and strengthening them and promulgating them maybe that was the whole way that literature was viewed and taught……"

In Gender Studies, the Alpha bias is the magnification of gender differences and the Beta bias is the minimisation of gender differences. The Gamma bias is the simultaneous minimisation and magnification of gender differences.


The foundations of the Gamma Bias were laid during her formative years as undergraduate student at university. This is particularly important in regards to students studying Journalism.

Professor Janice Fiamengo in her explanation on how she was taught to view female and male characters is an example of the gender distortion matrix developed by Psychologists Martin Seager and John Berry. The Gender distortion matrix is often reflect in how the present day media represent gendered news stories.

Female characters were seen as overcoming obstacles and heroic as she worked to overcome the various (invisible) limitations that denied her life possibilities.

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About the Author

Phillip Hickox is a retired critical care nurse.

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