Sex Roles

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 217–231

Exploring sex differences in expectancy, attribution, and academic achievement

  • Sumru Erkut


Two studies were carried out to explore if sex differences in expectancy and attribution of achievement are related to sex differences in academic performance. Study I investigated expectancy and attribution of achievement, operationalized as grade point index, among 176 male and 116 female college freshmen. Men were found to form higher expectations for future grades. Attributions measured through assigning percentage weights to ability, luck, effort, and difficulty as causal explanations of one's grade point index showed that men make more ability and women more effort attributions. Despite these differences in expectancy and attribution patterns, men and women were found not to differ in their performance. In Study II 120 college freshmen, half of them male, half female, filled out questionnaires before and after a midterm examination. A subsample of 49 also completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory. The results basically confirm the previous study's findings, except in Study II, men and women gave equally high weights to effort as a cause. The results also show that a feminine sex-role orientation is associated with a debilitating pattern of expectancy and attribution and lower performance, especially among women. Implications of the results for unraveling inconsistencies in the attribution literature and for a need to clarify connotations of femininity are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sumru Erkut
    • 1
  1. 1.Wellesley College Center for Research on WomenWellesley

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