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Percept Mot Skills. 2005 Oct;101(2):440-4.

Sex differences on use of associative and dissociative cognitive strategies among male and female athletes.

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  • 1Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen, 2532 Magglingen, Switzerland.


This study assessed whether men and women differed in using associative and dissociative cognitive strategies during athletic performance. Athletes (31 men, M age = 23.2 yr., SD = 3.9 and 29 women, M age = 22.9 yr., SD = 4.3) who practiced endurance activities (running, swimming, and cycling) were considered high-level performers because they participated in national or international competition. The athletes were interviewed, and Schomer's 1986 method of measurement was used to evaluate and quantify two cognitive strategies. Most specifically, categories of association concerned the way the athlete paid close attention to bodily signals, and categories of dissociation described how the athlete shunned sensory inputs. Analysis of variance and the t test showed that women tend to be more dissociative than men and men more associative than women. The results suggest that pain perception in these sports may be a function of sex.

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