Winning or Losing Against an Opposite-Sex Peer on a Gender-Based Competitive Task

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Depression, Social Psychology, Current Finding, Competitive Interaction, Construction Knowledge

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Two studies with heterosexual female and malecollege students explored the effects on mood and bodyimage resulting from a negative versus a positiveoutcome in a competitive interaction. In study 1,participants either succeeded or failed in comparison to anopposite-sex confederate on a gender-neutral task ofanagram solution. Study 2 added the dimension of thegender stereotypicality of the task by creatingempirically derived feminine (beauty aid knowledge) andmasculine (tool construction knowledge) conditions. Theresults indicated that women's anger significantlyincreased following the masculine task, regardless of the outcome. A marginally significantthree-way interaction resulted for the depressionmeasure: Females who won at the masculine task hadhigher levels of depression than males in thiscondition, and higher levels than both males and females inthe masculine-lose condition. In contrast, males who“won” on the feminine task had higher levelsof depression than females in this condition, and higher levels than both males and females who lost onthe feminine task. Discussion centers on the potentialusefulness of the gender-stereotypicality measure forfuture research and the need for followup work to replicate the current findings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Sex Roles, v. 41, issue 11-12, p. 875-899