Research has suggested that females lack self-confidence in their abilities to perform in certain physical activity situations. This "situational vulnerability," however, is not characteristic of all age levels. The present research was designed to determine if situational vulnerability was characteristic of college-age females and to determine if postperformance feedback would enhance self-confidence. Further, the research was designed to determine if feedback-enhanced self-confidence would generalize to a different task. In Study 1, males and females (N=381) rated the gender appropriateness of several motor tasks and made confidence ratings. In Study 2, high and low confidence college-age women (N=69) were tested to determine if feedback increased confidence on a gender-neutral task.. Subjects were then tested for confidence after performing a different task to determine if feedback-produced confidence differences were enduring. The results indicated that both tasks were rated as gender-neutral, but college-age females lacked confidence when compared to males. Feedback did improve confidence for low confidence females, but this feedback-enhanced self-confidence did not generalize to a different motor task. It is suggested that a fourth factor, namely lack of experience, be added to Lenney's (1977) situational vulnerability hypothesis as a factor likely to affect female self-confidence.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Steven J. Petruzzello, Exercise and Sport Research Institute, Department of Health and Physical Education, PEBE 168, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ 85287.