The influence of sex stereotypes and gender roles on participation and performance in sport and exercise: Review and future directions

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Abstract

The role of sex stereotypes and gender roles in the sex differences observed in sport and exercise has been extensively investigated in sport psychology, past studies showing that stereotypes are internalized into the self during the socialization process. Although this research has provided clear evidence of the psychosocial roots of sex differences in athletics, focusing exclusively on an internalization explanation may not allow a complete understanding of the influence of stereotypes in this domain. This article presents two approaches that have been developed in mainstream psychology and discusses their relevance in sport psychology: (1) the situational approach, which considers that the mere presence of stereotypes in the environment is sufficient to affect individuals (e.g., stereotype threat theory); (2) the content of stereotypes approach (e.g., stereotype content model), which suggests that stereotypes about a particular group may be ambivalent, and that this ambivalence may serve to legitimize the status quo.

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