, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, pp 269-285

“I'll Take Gender Differences for $1000!” Domain-Specific Intellectual Success on “Jeopardy”

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Abstract

A great deal of laboratory research has demonstrated that women underestimate their intellect and abilities, and we studied whether this tendency manifested itself outside the laboratory by examining the performance of men and women on the television game show “Jeopardy”. Information about the masculinity and femininity of the topic categories for 65 games was collected, and selections, answers,wagering strategies, and earnings were noted for 195 White men and women contestants on the show. Men were more likely than women to appear as contestants, made most of the selections in the game, and won more money. Until the end of the game, men selected and correctly answered a disproportional number of questions from masculine topic categories, which appeared more often during the first round of play. Women chose more feminine and neutral questions than did men, and correctly answered those questions at a proportional rate. Wagering strategies differed late in the game, as men bet a higher percent of their earnings than did women, but only when wagering on masculine topics. Several explanations for differing performance of men and women on “Jeopardy”are offered, including confidence in ability due to self-estimation of intelligence, differential use of evaluative feedback, and the gender role appropriateness of demonstrating intellect.