The Influence of Gender on the Peer Leadership-Cohesion Relationship

Michael E. Berrebi, West Virginia University

Abstract

Research shows that a moderate to large cohesion-performance relationship exists, suggesting teams that build strong social and task cohesion are more likely to be successful. This effect has also found to be stronger in female over male teams. Peer leadership positions are somewhat overshadowed by coach positions on sport teams but can have an important influence on a team's task and social cohesion. This study investigated the influence gender has on the peer leadership-cohesion relationship. Participants were 381 NCAA Division I male and female soccer players from 67 different universities. Each participant completed questionnaires assessing team cohesion and athlete leader behaviors. Overall, it was found that for both male and females, all four cohesion dimensions were positively related to the leadership behaviors of Democratic Behavior, Training and Instruction, Social Support, and Positive Feedback. Specifically for males, Autocratic Behavior was a strong predictor of two cohesion dimensions. For females, Social Support was a significant predictor of all four cohesion dimensions. These findings provide researchers, coaches, and sport psychology consultants evidence that male and female athlete leaders may influence team cohesion in different ways, and it is important to develop athlete leaders behaviors on male and female sport teams that are more effective at strengthening both task and social cohesion in order to also improve performance.