The influence of role and gender in the empathic accuracy of coaches and athletes

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Objective:The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in the empathic accuracy of coaches and athletes in relation to the gender of the dyad member occupying each role in the coach–athlete relationship.Method:The empathic accuracy of fifty-six coach–athlete dyads was assessed using actual recordings of their own training sessions (see Lorimer & Jowett, 2009a, 2009b). Participants viewed selected video footage of discrete interactions that had occurred during these training sessions. Participants reported what they remembered thinking and feeling while making inferences about what their partner's had thought and felt at those points. Comparison of partners self-reports and inferences allowed their empathic accuracy to be calculated.Results:It was found that female coaches were more accurate than male coaches. Additionally, for athletes, the highest accuracy scores were displayed by female athletes working with male coaches, and the least by female athletes working with female coaches.Conclusions:The results are discussed in terms of Social Role Theory and suggest that the interaction between the expectations of coach and athlete roles and gender play a key part in how accurately coaches and athletes perceive each other.

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