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Can Personality Explain what is Underlying Women's Unwillingness to Compete?

Listed author(s):
  • Müller, Julia
  • Schwieren, Christiane

There is ample evidence that women do not react to competition as men do and are less willing to enter a competition than men (e.g., Gneezy et al.(2003), Niederle and Vesterlund (2007)). In this paper, we use personality variables to understand the underlying motives of women (and men) to enter a competition or avoid it. We use the Big Five personality factors (Goldberg (1981), McCrae and Costa JR (2003)), where especially neuroticism has been related to performance in achievement settings. We first test whether scores on the Big Five are related to performance in our experiment, and second how this is related to incentives. We can show that the sex di fference in the willingness to enter a competition is mediated by neuroticism and further that neuroticism is negatively related to performance in competiton. This raises the possibility that those women who do not choose competitive incentives "know" that they should not.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0511.

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Date of creation: 11 Apr 2011
Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0511
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  1. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Gender Matching And Competitiveness: Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 816-835, January.
  2. Booth, Alison & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Choosing to compete: How different are girls and boys?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 542-555.
  3. Cason, Timothy N. & Masters, William A. & Sheremeta, Roman M., 2010. "Entry into winner-take-all and proportional-prize contests: An experimental study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 604-611, October.
  4. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tan, Michelle, 2011. "Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-13, January.
  5. 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.
  6. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences, and Gender," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 556-590, April.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Niels D. Grosse & Gerhard Riener, 2010. "Explaining Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Gender-Task Stereotypes," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-017, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  10. Heckman, James J., 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Simon Fietze & Elke Holst & Verena Tobsch, 2011. "Germany’s Next Top Manager: Does Personality Explain the Gender Career Gap?," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 22(3), pages 240-273.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  15. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
  16. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  17. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  18. 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.
  19. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2010. "Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 129-144, Spring.
  20. 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.
  21. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  22. Wozniak, David, 2009. "Choices About Competition: Differences by gender and hormonal fluctuations, and the role of relative performance feedback," MPRA Paper 21097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  23. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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