The influence of interpersonal relationship, gender, and result on the perceptions of a competitive motor-task game

Sebastian Harenberg, University of Regina, Canada

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 53

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Introduction: Research on competition has traditionally contrasted its detrimental effects to the more favorable condition of cooperation in terms of group productivity and communication (Johnson & Johnson, 1989). However, a meta-analysis by Stanne et al. (1999) revealed that competition may be constructive if it is structured appropriately. Further research (Kilduff et al., 2010) highlighted the necessity to examine pre-conditions (e.g., interpersonal relationships between competitors) to further understand the constructive interpretation of competition. This study examines how the relationship between competitors, gender, and the competitive outcome influences various outcomes. Methods: Two hundred and seventy-four individuals (female n= 106) took part in the study. Each participant was paired with a friend or a stranger of the same sex and played a competitive target game. Afterwards, the participants completed a questionnaire measuring perceived determination to win, enjoyment of the game, perceived challenge, willingness to cooperate with a competitor on other tasks, and enjoyment of the interaction with opponent. Results: The analyses showed significant main effects between friends and strangers for the variables enjoyment of the game, enjoyment of the interaction with the competitor, and willingness to cooperate with the opponent. Furthermore, a significant main effect in perceived challenge between the win-loss groups was found. For all male participants and for women who competed against strangers, perceived determination to win decreased when they lost. On the contrary for women who competed against friends, perceived determination to win increased when they lost. Discussion: The present study confirms that the pre-existing relationship between participants has an influence on the interpretation of competitive situations. Furthermore, it highlights that gender plays an important role in this relationship for the perceived determination to win. The results emphasize the necessity to further examine conditions that influence the interpretation of competitive situations. Limitations and future research will be discussed.

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