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Gender differences in appraisal and coping: an examination of the situational and dispositional hypothesis

Polman, R; Nicholls, Adam


R Polman

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Professor Adam Nicholls
Professor of Psychology/ Leader of the Sport Psychology and Coaching Group


Gender differences in coping in sport have received increased attention, but cross-sectional and retrospective designs of studies have provided equivocal results and limited conclusions in the area. To address this gap, two studies were conducted investigating stress, appraisal and coping in males and females when executing a golf-putting task. The two studies were conducted under controlled laboratory settings, including a control and an experimental condition. Participants performed the same golf-putting task in both conditions. In the experimental condition, stress was induced using a combination of evaluation apprehension, funny putter, monetary inducement (Study 1), and ego-threatening feedback (Study 2). Stress appraisal (type of stressor and its frequency) and coping (strategies used and their frequency) were assessed online using the think aloud protocol. Stress responses were assessed using self-report, physiological, and behavioral measures. Both studies found similar stress responses for males and females (e.g. increased heart rate, task completion time, and cognitive state anxiety) in the experimental condition. However, significant gender differences were found in relation to the frequency of stressors cited and coping strategies used for these particular stressors. Across both studies, females reported being more often concerned with task execution and males with the outcome. Differences in coping strategies observed between the genders were likely to be a consequence of different stress appraisals, in particular the frequency of particular stressors appraised. Findings provide tentative support for the situational hypothesis as males and females have a tendency to use similar coping strategies if they appraise the same stressors within the same situation.


Polman, R., & Nicholls, A. (2012). Gender differences in appraisal and coping: an examination of the situational and dispositional hypothesis. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 43(1), 41640

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2012
Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Journal International Journal of Sport Psychology
Print ISSN 0047-0767
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 1
Pages 41640
Public URL