MIAMI — Men are better than women at Scrabble, but it’s not for a lack of ability, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Miami analyzed the performance of 300 elite players who had participated in the National Scrabble Championship, finding that although females made up the majority of competitors, men usually took home the gold, even when accounting for age, skill, and experience.
This outcome was the result of something simple: men took playing Scrabble more seriously.
In other words, women, who often played the word game for pleasure, did not approach it as a cutthroat competition devoid of anything else.
Competitive male players said, according to The Times, that “rather than getting together with friends for a pleasant game,” they were predisposed toward analyzing past games, memorizing words and obscure rules, and studying anything else that would lend them an advantage.
Although one’s ability to engage in wordplay doesn’t appear to be reliant on gender— in fact, many studies have shown that women may have a more natural talent for language— this study does present some interesting issues for society to ponder.
For example, are men more inclined to be career-driven, contributing to the gender pay gap?
This argument might not even hold weight for this particular study, the researchers argue, as being a Scrabble champion isn’t particularly financially lucrative.
“There’s not a lot of money in Scrabble; it’s not like chess,” explains Dr. Jerad Moxley, the study’s lead researcher, to The Times. “So why would you even want to be the best Scrabble player in the world? You could argue it doesn’t make sense.”
It would appear as if many men, regardless of the nature of competition, have embodied Ricky Bobby’s famous maxim: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
The study’s findings were published in the journal Psychological Research.