Original article:

More men run relatively fast in U.S. road races, 1981-2006: a stable sex difference in non-elite runners

Evolutionary Psychology 9(4): 600-621 Robert O. Deaner, Department of Psychology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, USA, deanerr@gvsu.eduDon Mitchell, Anthropology Department, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, USA


Recent studies indicate that more men than women run fast relative to sex- specific world records and that this sex difference has been historically stable in elite U.S. runners. These findings have been hypothesized to reflect an evolved male predisposition for enduring competitiveness in “show-off” domains. The current study tests this hypothesis in non-elite runners by analyzing 342 road races that occurred from 1981-2006, most in or near Buffalo, NY. Both absolutely and as a percentage of same-sex finishers, more men ran relatively fast in most races. During the 1980s, as female participation surged, the difference in the absolute number of relatively fast men and women decreased. However, this difference was stable for races that occurred after 1993. Since then, in any given race, about three to four times as many men as women ran relatively fast. The stable sex difference in relative performance shown here for non-elites constitutes new support for the hypothesis of an evolved male predisposition for enduring competitiveness.


motivation, competition, runners, gender difference, Title IX

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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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