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Competitive behavior, stress, and gender

Author

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  • Halko, Marja-Liisa
  • Sääksvuori, Lauri

Abstract

This paper investigates whether physiological measures related to chronic and acute stress predict individual differences in willingness to compete. We measure individuals' autonomic nervous system activity in a resting state as well as under non-competitive and competitive incentive schemes using heart rate variability (HRV) measurement. We find that both baseline HRV and competition-induced changes in HRV predict willingness to compete. Notably, we find that women with low baseline HRV, a marker associated with chronic stress exposure, are more likely to choose piece rate incentives over competitive incentives than women with high baseline HRV. We observe that men with large acute HRV response to forced competition are more likely to choose tournament pay over piece rate pay than men with small acute HRV response to competition. Our results suggest that HRV can predict individual differences in willingness to compete, but HRV does not close the gender gap in willingness to compete at the aggregate level.

Suggested Citation

  • Halko, Marja-Liisa & Sääksvuori, Lauri, 2017. "Competitive behavior, stress, and gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 96-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:96-109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.06.014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aurelie Dariel & Curtis Kephart & Nikos Nikiforakis & Christina Zenker, 2017. "Emirati women do not shy away from competition: evidence from a patriarchal society in transition," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(2), pages 121-136, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Competitiveness; Experiment; Gender; Labour market; Stress;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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