The Costs of Winning? The Role of Gender in Moral Reasoning and Judgments about Competitive Athletic Encounters

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Williams College
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Two studies examined gender differences in moral reasoning and judgments about competitive athletic encounters. In Study 1, subjects read an open-ended script regarding a competitive athletic encounter between friends which required a decision with achievement related or affiliation related outcomes. They made a decision and reasoned aloud about it in a structured interview. Contrary to Gilligan's (1982) model, men and women were equally likely to use "justice" and "care" considerations in their reasoning, and there were no gender differences in their final decisions. In Study 2, subjects considered the same situation, though the protagonist had already decided between pursuing achievement, pursuing both achievement and affiliation, or pursuing affiliation. Significant effects were found for athletes' gender, as well as for interactions of athletes' gender and decision condition in subjects' ratings of the correctness of the decision and of the consequences it would have for the athletes' relationships. Women regarded the decision as entailing "moral" considerations whereas men did not.

The authors are with the Psychology Department at Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267.

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