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Does competition enhance performance or cheating? A laboratory experiment

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Author Info

  • Schwieren, Christiane
  • Weichselbaumer, Doris

Abstract

In this paper, we experimentally test whether competing for a desired reward does not only affect individuals' performance, but also their tendency to cheat. Recent doping scandals in sports as well as forgery and plagiarism scandals in academia have been partially explained by "competitive pressures", which suggests a link between competition and cheating. In our experiment subjects conduct a task where they have the possibility to make use of illegitimate tools to better their results. We find that women react much stronger to competitive pressure by increasing their cheating activity while there is no overall sex difference in cheating. However, the effect of competition on women's cheating behavior is entirely due to the fact that women, on average, are doing worse with respect to the assigned task. Indeed we find that it is the ability of an individual to conduct a particular task and not sex that crucially affects the reaction to competition. Poor performers significantly increase their cheating behavior under competition which may be a face-saving strategy or an attempt to retain a chance of winning.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 31 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 241-253

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:241-253

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

Related research

Keywords: Competition Tournament Piece rate Cheating Experiment;

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References

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  1. Brandts, Jordi & Riedl, Arno & van Winden, Frans A.A.M., 2006. "Competition and Well-Being," CEPR Discussion Papers 5532, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  3. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Daniel Nagin & James Rebitzer & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 2002. "Monitoring, Motivation and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Charness, Gary B & Cabrales, Antonio & VILLEVAL, MARIE-CLAIRE, 2007. "Competition, Hidden Information, And Efficiency: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3kp5v19m, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  6. Gary A. Hoover, 2004. "Whose Line Is It? Plagiarism in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 487-493, June.
  7. Vandegrift, Donald & Yavas, Abdullah, 2009. "Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 554-570, October.
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  9. Günther, Christina & Ekinci, Neslihan Arslan & Schwieren, Christiane & Strobel, Martin, 2010. "Women can't jump?--An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 395-401, September.
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  13. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Kräkel & Reinhard Selten, 2004. "Sabotage in Asymmetric Contests – An Experimental Analysis," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2004, University of Bonn, Germany.
  15. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," NBER Working Papers 10269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
  18. Benno Torgler & Neven T. Valev, 2006. "Women and Illegal Activities: Gender Differences and Women?s Willingness to Comply over Time," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  19. Joseph Price, 2008. "Gender Differences in the Response to Competition," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(3), pages 320-333, April.
  20. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
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  22. List, John A, et al, 2001. "Academic Economists Behaving Badly? A Survey on Three Areas of Unethical Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(1), pages 162-70, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Migheli, Matteo, 2010. "Gender at Work: Productivity and Incentives," AICCON Working Papers 74-2010, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  2. Pascual-Ezama, David & Prelec, Drazen & Dunfield, Derek, 2013. "Motivation, money, prestige and cheats," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 367-373.
  3. Michèle Belot & Marina Schröder, 2012. "Sloppy Work, Lies and Theft: A Novel Experimental Design to Study Counterproductive Behaviour," FEMM Working Papers 120018, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  4. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Wagner, Gert G., 2013. "Top‐Down vs. Bottom‐Up: The Long‐Term Impact of Government Ideology and Personal Experience on Values," IZA Discussion Papers 7279, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Pittarello, Andrea & Rubaltelli, Enrico & Rumiati, Rino, 2013. "You can’t be better than me: The role of the reference point in modulating people’s pursuit of wealth," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 65-76.
  6. Cartwright, Edward & Menezes, Matheus L.C., 2014. "Cheating to win: Dishonesty and the intensity of competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 55-58.
  7. Victor Manuel Bennett & Lamar Pierce & Jason A. Snyder & Michael W. Toffel, 2012. "Competition and Illicit Quality," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-071, Harvard Business School, revised May 2012.
  8. van Veldhuizen, R., 2013. "The influence of wages on public officials’ corruptibility: A laboratory investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 341-356.
  9. Charness, Gary & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2013. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3858888w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2013. "Cheating in the workplace: An experimental study of the impact of bonuses and productivity," MPRA Paper 50166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Van Yperen, Nico W. & Orehek, Edward, 2013. "Achievement goals in the workplace: Conceptualization, prevalence, profiles, and outcomes," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 71-79.
  12. Yiqun Wang, 2012. "Competition and Tax Evasion: A Cross Country Study," Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, vol. 42(2), pages 189-208, September.
  13. Frick, Bernd, 2011. "Gender differences in competitiveness: Empirical evidence from professional distance running," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 389-398, June.
  14. Nichols, Bridget Satinover, 2012. "The development, validation, and implications of a measure of consumer competitive arousal (CCAr)," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 192-205.
  15. Steffen Keck & Natalia Karelaia, 2012. "Does competition foster trust? The role of tournament incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 204-228, March.
  16. Dato, Simon & Nieken, Petra, 2013. "Gender Differences in Competition and Sabotage," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79750, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  17. van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2013. "The influence of wages on public officials' corruptibility: A laboratory investigation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-210, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  18. Román Andrés Zárate, 2012. "Peer Effects, Cooperation and Competition in Human Capital Formation," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 009795, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

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