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Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior

  • Vandegrift, Donald
  • Yavas, Abdullah

This study reports a series of experiments that examine outcomes when agents are able to choose between a payment scheme that rewards based on absolute performance (i.e., piece rate) and a scheme that rewards based on relative performance (i.e., a tournament). We test for the presence and persistence of gender differences in performance and the rate of entry into the tournament option and whether these differences are sensitive to the structure of the tournament rewards. In the winner-take-all (WTA) condition, only the best performer in the tournament for each round received a payment ($4.50). In the graduated tournament condition, the same payment ($4.50) was divided among the first, second, and third finishers in the tournament. In the WTA condition, men showed significantly lower forecast errors than women. In addition, a clear sorting effect occurs in the WTA condition. In early rounds of the WTA condition, male entrants into the tournament show significantly lower forecast errors than female tournament entrants. However, the difference disappears over time. After controlling for forecasting skill, gender did not predict entry into the tournament for the WTA condition. However, lower forecasting skill reduced the probability of entry. In the graduated tournament, the situation was reversed. Men entered the tournament at significantly higher rates, even after controlling for skill. Forecasting skill had no impact on the decision to enter the tournament. While the average male entrant to the tournament had lower forecast errors than the average female entrant, the men entered at much higher rates. As a consequence, men were much more likely than women to enter the tournament too frequently.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 72 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 554-570

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:554-570
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