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Male Athletes Choke, Female Athletes Do Not

Male Athletes Choke, Female Athletes Do Not

October 31, 2016

Business & Management, Social Sciences & Humanities

Vocativ — The findings of a new working paper published by four university professors — two from Ben-Gurion University — suggest that women are far less apt to choke under competitive pressure than men.

danny cohen-zada

Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada

“We find that even if women show a drop in performance in the more crucial stages of the match, it is still about 50 percent smaller than that of men,” the researchers say.

Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada and Dr. Mosi Rosenboim, of BGU’s Department of Economics and Department of Management respectfully, studied every singles match played during the 2010 Grand Slam tournaments.


Dr. Mosi Rosenboim

What they discovered was a much wider deviation in performance throughout the game from men, especially during particularly high pressure moments like serves. The trend showed a much higher likelihood of choking under the pressure in men.

But why is this the case? The explanation could actually be biological, the researchers suggest.

“In response to achievement challenges, cortisol levels increase more rapidly among men than among women, and high levels can harm the mind’s critical abilities,” the researchers say.

The research hasn’t yet been extrapolated into unisex fields, such as the workforce, but in the realm of tennis at least, it’s advantage women when it comes to keeping cool under pressure.

Read more on the Vocative website >>