Examining Sex Differences in Motivations to Participate in Sports

2019-08-08T18:32:10Z (GMT) by Kaily Bruch
Sports have a dominating presence in cultures around the world, but how can psychologists explain the mass interest in winning races, scoring goals, and hitting home runs? A number of evolutionary psychology hypotheses attempt to address why men play sports and are supported by strong empirical evidence, but these same hypotheses fail sufficiently to explain why women participate in sports. To address this gap, a survey investigating sports and exercise motivations, self-perceived mate value, and social dominance orientation was distributed to athletes and non-athletes at Carnegie Mellon University. We compared results from athletes to non-athletes as well as athletes on a team and individual sport. Key findings include males were more motivated to exercise for social reasons where females were more motivated by improving their appearance. Additionally, athletes on a team sport reported a greater motivation to win and a higher mate value where athletes on an individual sport reported greater social motivations for exercising. Ultimately, these results support an evolutionary-based explanation for why we play sports.