What We Look For is What We Find


  • Rhoda Unger Brandeis University (USA)


The purpose of this paper is to examine epistemological connections between
the words used by psychologists, the way words influence what  methodology we use, and
how methods influence our beliefs about causality and construct phenomena regarded as
psychological "facts." These processes are considered in terms of a personal and
historical perspective gained from nearly forty years of studying the psychology of women
and gender.  This paper focuses the history of the distinction between "sex" and "gender"
 and the continued attention of researchers to the question of whether sex/gender
differences exist.  It argues that the issue continues to be researched because of  the
relative absence of socio-structural variables such as status and power from most
psychological discourse and the current empirical focus of many feminist psychologists in
the United States.  I also argue that lack of attention to epistemology and to the
connection between politics and scholarship has led to a definition of the psychology of
women and/or gender that no longer attends to feminist theory and to a decline in
socially activist scholarship.  Women and men cannot be studied in isolation from other
social constructions such as race/ethnicity, social class, sexual diversity, and cultural
difference.  Such synthesis will be difficult without a return to concerns about
epistemology and question generation that are rarely addressed in U. S. feminist
psychology today.

Palabras clave

Epistemology, Sex and Gender, Sex Differences, Feminist Psychology

Biografía del autor/a

Rhoda Unger, Brandeis University (USA)

Resident scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center of Brandeis University and a professor emerita of psychology at Montclair State University. She

received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Harvard University in 1966, but soon
became a pioneering scholar in the psychology of women and gender. She has written and/or
edited nine books in this area and authored 80 professional articles and book chapters. 
She has been president of the Society for Women in Psychology and the Society for the
Psychological Study of Social Issues (both divisions of the American Psychological




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