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Competitive behavior, stress, and gender

Listed author(s):
  • Halko, Marja-Liisa
  • Sääksvuori, Lauri

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.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268117301725
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 141 (2017)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 96-109

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:96-109
DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.06.014
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. 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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  4. Steffen Andersen & Seda Ertac & Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Sandra Maximiano, 2013. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Socialization at a Young Age: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1438-1443, October.
  5. Ernesto Reuben & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2015. "Taste for Competition and the Gender Gap Among Young Business Professionals," NBER Working Papers 21695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dulleck, Uwe & Fooken, Jonas & Newton, Cameron & Ristl, Andrea & Schaffner, Markus & Torgler, Benno, 2016. "Tax compliance and psychic costs: Behavioral experimental evidence using a physiological marker," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 9-18.
  7. Anna Dreber & Emma Essen & Eva Ranehill, 2014. "Gender and competition in adolescence: task matters," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(1), pages 154-172, March.
  8. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
  9. Müller, Julia & Schwieren, Christiane, 2012. "Can personality explain what is underlying women’s unwillingness to compete?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 448-460.
  10. Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2012. "Gender differences in competitiveness and risk taking: Comparing children in Colombia and Sweden," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 11-23.
  11. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
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  13. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2015. "Competitiveness and the gender gap among young business professionals," CEPR Discussion Papers 10924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Anna Dreber & Emma Essen & Eva Ranehill, 2011. "Outrunning the gender gap—boys and girls compete equally," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 567-582, November.
  15. Buckert, Magdalena & Schwieren, Christiane & Kudielka, Brigitte M. & Fiebach , Christian J., 2015. "How stressful are economic competitions in the lab? An investigation with physiological measures," Working Papers 0593, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  16. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
  17. Christina Günther & Neslihan Arslan Ekinci & Christiane Schwieren & Martin Strobel, 2010. "Women can't jump?-An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat," Post-Print hal-00849415, HAL.
  18. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2011. "Gender and Competition," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 601-630, September.
  19. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2014. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Career Choices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1409-1447.
  20. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
  21. Buser, Thomas & Geijtenbeek, Lydia & Plug, Erik, 2015. "Do Gays Shy Away from Competition? Do Lesbians Compete Too Much?," IZA Discussion Papers 9382, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Falk, Armin & Menrath, Ingo & Verde, Pablo Emilio & Siegrist, Johannes, 2011. "Cardiovascular Consequences of Unfair Pay," IZA Discussion Papers 5720, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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