Original article:

More males run relatively fast in U.S. road races: Further evidence of a sex difference in competitiveness

Evolutionary Psychology 4: 303-314 Robert O. Deaner, Department of Psychology, Grand Valley State University, 2111 AuSable Hall, Allendale, Michigan 49401-9403, USA, robert.deaner@gmail.com


Deaner (2006) recently showed that among elite U.S. runners, two to four times as many males as females run fast relative to sex-specific world-class standards. Previous questionnaire studies of non-elite runners suggest this phenomenon may reflect a sex difference in motivation to train competitively. If this hypothesis is correct, then the sex difference in performance depth should also hold in non-elite running populations. Here I tested this prediction by analyzing the finishing times at 20 of the largest 5000 m road races and 20 of the largest marathons held in the U.S. in 2003. For both types of races, overall population distributions of relative performance were similar in males and females. However, at the fastest relative performance levels, males were over represented by two to four times. This difference could not be explained by the presence of professional runners or as an artifact of biased world- class standards. This result shows that the sex difference in performance depth occurs generally and thus supports the hypothesis that sex differences in competitiveness partly reflect evolved predispositions.


running, athletics, sports, gender differences, motivation.  

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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