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

  • 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
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Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0511
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  1. 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.
  2. Dreber, Anna & Emma, von Essen & Ranehill, Eva, 2009. "Outrunning the Gender Gap – Boys and Girls Compete Equally," Research Papers in Economics 2009:17, Stockholm University, Department of Economics, revised 01 Mar 2010.
  3. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Choosing To Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?," Economics Discussion Papers 673, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2010. "Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Risk Taking: Comparing Children in Colombia and Sweden," Research Papers in Economics 2010:18, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  5. Dohmen T.J. & Falk A., 2010. "Performance pay and multi-dimensional sorting - Productivity, preferences and gender," Research Memorandum 012, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  6. Simon Fietze & Elke Holst & Verena Tobsch, 2010. "Germany’s Next Top Manager: Does Personality explain the Gender Career Gap?," Danish-German Working Papers 003, University of Flensburg, International Institute of Management (IIM);University of Southern Denmark, Department of Border Region Studies (IFG).
  7. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Timothy N. Cason & William A. Masters & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "Entry into Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 10-10, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  9. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tan, Michelle, 2009. "Noncognitive Skills, Occupational Attainment, and Relative Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 4289, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  11. Lise Vesterlund, 2008. "How Costly is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Working Papers 342, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2008.
  12. John List & Kenneth Leonard & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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, 01.
  17. 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.
  18. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  19. James J. Heckman, 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," NBER Working Papers 17378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  21. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  22. Niels D. Grosse & Gerhard Riener, 2010. "Explaining Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Gender-Task Stereotypes," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-017, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  23. 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 129-44, Spring.
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