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Dancers vs. Athletes

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With a second look at the research paper discussed under the "Gene(s) for Dancers" thread of Anything Goes, I found some interesting psychological comparisons between dancers and athletes. They are reported in statistical jargon in the paper's Table 4:


But here's the gist:

1. Dancers score higher than Athletes in Absorption, Reward Dependence (with females moreso than males), and Fear of Failure.

2. Athletes score higher than Dancers in Self-Esteem and Drive for Success.

3. The two groups are not statistically distinguishable in Harm Avoidance (ignore typo on far right), Novelty Seeking, Persistence, Perfectionism, Obsessiveness, Concern for Appropriateness, and Self-monitoring.

These comparisons were controlled for age and sex.

The psychological data were gathered primarily for the purpose of interpreting genetic differences. There is a nice, short summary of the paper's findings highlighted in yellow (scroll down just a bit):


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What's interesting to me is the breakdown of the athletes:

36 (32 females and four males) were endurance athletes, mostly runners and swimmers;

39 (24 females and 15 males) competed at a high level in ballgames such as basketball and volleyball;

nine (eight females and one male) competed in technical sports such as sailing and fencing;

and seven (five females and two males) competed in the martial arts.

While there are officials in all of the other sports with various degrees of influence (low in swimming, high in fencing and martial arts), the only judged sport is martial arts, and, for example, in judo the judges only vote if there's a tie based on technical elements. There's a lot of politics and personality involved in sports as well as dance, but once athletes are eligible to compete and qualify, they are not subject to as much personal preference, particularly based on appearance. Athletes are expected to be aggressive on the playing field, with the exceptions of figure skating and gymnastics and they can admit that they are there to win. It isn't surprising that they'd score higher in self-esteem: they don't look at a mirror for hours a day and pick apart every last detail of weakness, coaches are more likely to be positive, and a national-class athlete has trophies, medals, and titles as evidence of progression.

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