• Outcome expectancy;
  • Cardiovascular response;
  • Sex differences;
  • Active coping;
  • Gender relevance


Male and female participants were led to believe they could secure a low or high chance of winning a prize by meeting a modest standard on a purportedly masculine task, that is, a task on which men ostensibly had higher ability. As expected, systolic blood pressure responses measured during performance were greater for women than men when the chance of winning was high, but low for both groups when the chance of winning was low. Similar effects were observed for diastolic and mean arterial pressure responses, although analysis of the mean arterial pressure data produced only a main effect for the chance factor. These results conceptually replicate cardiovascular findings obtained in a previous sex difference study. They also confirm the implication of previous ability perception studies that effort-related cardiovascular responses should be low for both sexes when the importance of meeting a gender-relevant challenge is low.