The research was designed to examine whether females exhibit greater discom- fort than males in competitive contexts, which could account for females’ greater avoidance of direct competition. In Study 1, 40 groups of 4 same-sex children from kindergarten or Grade 4 were asked to chose one leader for their groups. Although no sex differences were found in level of participation or length of negotiations during the process of leadership selection, females were found to exhibit significantly more discomfort than males. In Study 2, a new method was employed in which kindergarten and Grade 4 same-sex dyads competed by playing identical games. No sex differences were found in level of discomfort while the children played the games and a barrier prevented the children from communicating. After the games were over and the barrier removed, however, females displayed higher levels of discomfort than males both while waiting for the outcome of the competition and after the winner had been announced. Together, these studies provide consistent evidence that females exhibit higher levels of discomfort than males when competing directly with same-sex peers. One plausible proximate reason for sex differences in engagement in direct competition is females’ more negative emotional response.
Benenson, Joyce F.; Roy, Rosanne; Waite, Angela; Goldbaum, Suzanne; Linders, Lisa; and Simpson, Anna
"Greater Discomfort as a Proximate Cause of Sex Differences in Competition,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 48:
3, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol48/iss3/2