• The influence of physical attractiveness and gender on perceived competence of sportscasters

      Davies, Emma.; Applied Health Sciences Program (Brock University, 2006-05-19)
      The media tends to represent female athletes as women first and athletes second (Koivula, 1 999). The present study investigated whether this same trend was present for female sportscasters, using a self-presentational framework. Self-presentation is the process by which people try to control how others see them (Leary, 1995). One factor that may influence the type of image they try to project is their roles held in society, including gender roles. The gender roles for a man include dominance, assertiveness, and masculinity, while the gender roles for a woman include nurturer, femininity, and attractiveness (Deaux & Major, 1 987). By contrast, sports broadcasters are expected to be knowledgeable, assertive, and competent. Research suggests that female sports broadcasters are seen as less competent and less persuasive than male sports broadcasters (Mitrook & Dorr, 2001; Ordman & Zillmann, 1994, Toro, 2005). One reason for this difference may be that the gender roles for a man are much more similar to those of a sportscaster, compared to those of a woman. Thus, there may be a conflict between the two roles for women. The present study investigated whether the gender and perceived attractiveness of sportscasters influenced the audience's perceptions of the level of competence that a sportscaster demonstrates. Two hundred and four male (n =75) and female (n =129) undergraduate students were recruited from a southern Ontario university to participate in the study. The average age of the male participants was 21 .23 years {SD =1 .60), and the average age for female participants was 20.67 years {SD = 1 .31). The age range for all participants was from 19 to 30 years {M = 20.87 years, SD = 1 .45). Af^er providing informed consent, participants randomly received one of four possible questionnaire packages. The participants answered the demographic questionnaire, and then proceeded to view the picture and read the script of a sports newscast. Next, based on the picture and script, the participants answered the competence questionnaire, assessing the general, sport specific, and overall competence of the sportscaster. Once participants had finished, they returned the package to the researcher and were thanked for their time. Data was analyzed using an ANOVA to determine if general sport competence differs with respect to gender and attractiveness of the sportscaster. Overall, the ANOVA was non-significant (p > .05), indicating no differences on the dependent variable based on gender (F (3, 194) = .631, p = .426), attractiveness (F (3, 194) = .070, p = .791), or the interaction of the two {F (3, 194) = .043,/? = .836). Although none of the study hypotheses were supported, the study provided some insight to the perceived competence of female sportscasters. It is possible that female sportscasters are now seen as competent in the area of sports. Sample characteristics could also have influenced these results; the participants in the current study were primarily physical education and kinesiology students, who had experience participating in physical activity with both men and women. Future research should investigate this issue further by using a video sportscast. It is possible that delivery characteristics such as voice quality or eye contact may also impact perceptions of sportscasters.