Sex Bias in Evaluating Motor Activity: General or Task-specific Performance Expectancy?

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L. R. Brawley University of Waterloo

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R. C. Powers University of Waterloo

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K. A. Phillips Queen's University

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This experiment examined if a general expectancy for male superiority biased subjective evaluation of motor performance. Alternatively, sex bias could be specific to tasks involving muscular work. If the former, rather than the latter explanation is viable, a bias favoring males would be generalized to a task not obviously sex typed: motor accuracy. Observers, 22 of each sex, watched the softball pitching accuracy of performers of both sexes. Performer accuracy was trained and tested to ensure equality. Observers estimated preperformance accuracy, then observed three throws, estimating postperformance after each. Unlike the muscular endurance experiments, neither preperformance nor postperformance analysis revealed a sex bias. Thus a task-specific expectancy rather than general expectancy for male superiority was suggested to explain evaluation sex bias of previous muscular endurance experiments. Surprisingly, mean error magnitude of postperformance estimates was significantly greater for performers observed second than those viewed first, although actual performer accuracy was not different. This finding appears analogous to psychophysical judgment results in which successive stimulus judgments were conditions sufficient to cause estimation error. Suggestions are made for future research.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Advisory Research Council, Queen's University. Reprint requests should be sent to L. R. Brawley, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 Canada.

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