Variability Hypothesis Essay

2318 Words10 Pages
100113189 To what extent did the Variability Hypothesis demonstrate the use and misuse of science in Psychology? The Variability Hypothesis is the idea that men show a great range of variability in both physical and intellectual abilities as oppose to women who are all very much the same (Hall 1904). Jastrow 1896; Hall; 1904 suggested that there are inherent intellectual and physical differences between men and women (Shields, 1982). Leta Hollingworth (1913) referred to this as ‘armchair dogma’ a term used to describe the kind of passive beliefs that helped to sustain this hypothesis. According to Hollingworth objective scientific investigation was lacking for the assertions made by the variability hypothesis (Benjamin, 1975). The purpose of this essay is to explore the scientific evidence available in support of the variability hypothesis and to what extent it was used or misused in psychology. The topic of variability among men and women was first introduced by Johann Meckel a German Biologist in the early 19th century. Meckel stated that variation was greater among women than in men and that men have a greater range of ability. He therefore concluded that variation must be a sign of inferiority as it is linked to women (Shields, 1975). Following the publication of Charles Darwin’s ideas where emphasis was put on the importance of variation as a basic requirement through which progress is attained, greater variation was now linked to superiority and therefore agreed that men it is men who have greater variability as they are the superior sex. This demonstrates the variability hypothesis as the misuse of science in psychology, if science is objective then how can two opposing arguments conclude the same thing. Greater variability among men was backed by evidence from the fact that there were more males in institutions for feeble mindedness than women and
Open Document