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Why Competition may Discourage Students from Learning? A Behavioral Economic Analysis

  • X. Henry Wang
  • Bill Yang
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    Combining the notion of self-worth in sociology and educational psychology with economic modeling, the present paper studies incentives on students' learning in a behavioral economic model. Allowing for 'conservativeness' to modify Bayes' rule in processing newly released information and employing the concepts of 'loss aversion' and 'endowment effect' in behavioral economics, we attempt to explain analytically why competition among students may discourage them from learning. Within an educational institution, competition as an incentive scheme evaluates students on their relative performance, which strengthens the connection between students' relative performance and their perceived ability. When the perception of ability becomes a major concern, competition may motivate students to make a low effort - a strategy to win by not losing.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09645290210131656
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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 117-128

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:11:y:2003:i:2:p:117-128
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    1. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
    2. Correa, Hector & Gruver, Gene W., 1987. "Teacher-student interaction: A game theoretic extension of the economic theory of education," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 19-47, February.
    3. Mirman, L.J. & Samuelson, L. & Urbano, A., 1989. "Monopoly Experimentation," Papers 8-89-7, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
      • Mirman, Leonard J & Samuelson, Larry & Urbano, Amparo, 1993. "Monopoly Experimentation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(3), pages 549-63, August.
    4. Shleifer, Andrei, 2000. "Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292272.
    5. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    6. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    7. Bonesronning, Hans, 1999. "The variation in teachers' grading practices: causes and consequences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 89-106, February.
    8. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
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