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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. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Anna Dreber & Emma Essen & Eva Ranehill, 2011. "Outrunning the gender gap—boys and girls compete equally," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 567-582, November.
  4. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin, 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).
  5. 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.
  6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  7. James J. Heckman, 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," NBER Working Papers 17378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?," IZA Discussion Papers 4027, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. 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, 09.
  11. 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.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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).
  16. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Gender matching and competitiveness: experimental evidence," Post-Print halshs-00661770, HAL.
  17. 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.
  18. 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).
  19. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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