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Nerves of Steel? Stress, Work Performance and Elite Athletes

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  • David A. Savage
  • Benno Torgler

Abstract

There is a notable shortage of empirical research directed at measuring the magnitude and direction of stress effects on performance in a controlled environment. One reason for this is the inherent difficulties in identifying and isolating direct performance measures for individuals. Additionally most traditional work environments contain a multitude of exogenous factors impacting individual performance, but controlling for all such factors is generally unfeasible (omitted variable bias). Moreover, instead of asking individuals about their self-reported stress levels we observe workers' behavior in situations that can be classified as stressful. For this reason we have stepped outside the traditional workplace in an attempt to gain greater controllability of these factors using the sports environment as our experimental space. We empirically investigate the relationship between stress and performance, in an extreme pressure situation (football penalty kicks) in a winner take all sporting environment (FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Cup competitions). Specifically, we examine all the penalty shootouts between 1976 and 2008 covering in total 16 events. The results indicate that extreme stressors can have a positive or negative impact on individuals' performance. On the other hand, more commonly experienced stressors do not affect professionals' performances.

Suggested Citation

  • David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Nerves of Steel? Stress, Work Performance and Elite Athletes," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-22, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2009-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, December.
    2. Firth-Cozens, Jenny & Greenhalgh, Joanne, 1997. "Doctors' perceptions of the links between stress and lowered clinical care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1017-1022, April.
    3. Benno Torgler, 2006. "Historical Excellence' in Soccer World Cup Tournaments: Empirical Evidence with Data from 1930 to 2002," Rivista di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport, Centro di diritto e business dello Sport, vol. 2(1), pages 101-117, Aprile.
    4. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    5. repec:feb:artefa:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A., 2009. "Field experiments in economics: The past, the present, and the future," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-18, January.
    7. Benno Torgler, 2004. "The Economics of the FIFA Football Worldcup," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 287-300, May.
    8. P.-A. Chiappori, 2002. "Testing Mixed-Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1138-1151, September.
    9. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "The Sports Business as a Labor Market Laboratory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 75-94, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio & David A. Savage, 2015. "Hic Sunt Leones! The role of national identity on aggressiveness between national football teams," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Politica Economica ispe0076, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    2. Mario Lackner & Hendrik Sonnabend, 2017. "Coping with advantageous inequity - Field evidence from professional penalty kicking," Economics working papers 2017-21, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. Caruso, Raul & Di Domizio, Marco & Savage, David A., 2015. "Determinants of aggressiveness on the soccer pitch: evidence from FIFA and UEFA tournaments," MPRA Paper 61459, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio, 2015. "La Serie A In Televisione E Allo Stadio: Presentazione Del Dataset Audiball 1.0," Rivista di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport, Centro di diritto e business dello Sport, vol. 11(1), pages 161-185, maggio.
    5. Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio & David A. Savage, 2015. "Determinants of aggressiveness in soccer: Evidence from FIFA and UEFA tournaments," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(3), pages 2005-2011.
    6. Marisa Bucheli & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Máximo Rossi, 2015. "Competition and Food Intake: A Laboratory Study," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0615, Department of Economics - dECON.
    7. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:4:p:511-545 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    performance; stressors; sport; behavioral economics; work-related stress;

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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