Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gender Stereotypes and Style in Chess

from the Boston Globe April 20, 2008
Uncommon Knowledge: Surprising insights from the social sciences

CHESS IS A man's game. Not only do men vastly outnumber women in competition, but the perception that men are better seems to make women play worse.

After confirming that there is a widely held stereotype - shared by men and women - that men are better at chess, researchers set up a chess tournament on the Internet to match comparably ranked men and women against each other.

When the players were unaware of their opponent's gender, women played just as well as men. When the women were told that they would be playing a man and "that recent studies had shown that men earn clearly superior scores than women in chess games," their performance was cut in half.

Their performance did not suffer if they were told they were playing against another woman, even if they were actually playing a man. The researchers found the women's performance drop was caused by a change in their style of play: they became less confident and aggressive, and more defensive.

Maass, A. et al., "Checkmate? The Role of Gender Stereotypes in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport," European Journal of Social Psychology (March/April 2008).

No comments: