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Choking under Pressure: Evidence of the Causal Effect of Audience Size on Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Böheim, René

    () (University of Linz)

  • Grübl, Dominik

    () (University of Linz)

  • Lackner, Mario

    () (University of Linz)

Abstract

We analyze performance under pressure and estimate the causal effect of audience size on the success of free throws in top-level professional basketball. We use data from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the seasons 2007/08 through 2015/16. We exploit the exogenous variation in weather conditions on game day to establish a causal link between attendance size and performance. Our results confirm a sizeable and strong negative effect of the number of spectators on performance. Home teams in (non-critical) situations at the beginning of games perform worse when the audience is larger. This result is consistent with the theory of a home choke rather than a home field advantage. Our results have potentially large implications for general questions of workplace design and help to further understand how the social environment affects performance. We demonstrate that the amount of support, i.e. positive feedback, from a friendly audience does affect performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Böheim, René & Grübl, Dominik & Lackner, Mario, 2018. "Choking under Pressure: Evidence of the Causal Effect of Audience Size on Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 11761, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11761
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jose Apesteguia & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2010. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2548-2564, December.
    2. Florian Lindner, 2017. "Choking under pressure of top performers: Evidence from biathlon competitions," Working Papers 2017-24, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    3. Martin G. Kocher & Marc V. Lenz & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: New Evidence from Randomized Natural Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1585-1591, August.
    4. Colella, Fabrizio & Dalton, Patricio & Giusti, G., 2018. "You'll Never Walk Alone : The Effect of Moral Support on Performance," Discussion Paper 2018-026, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. La, Vincent, 2014. "Home Team Advantage in the NBA: The Effect of Fan Attendance on Performance," MPRA Paper 54579, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Braga, Breno & Guillén, Diogo, 2012. "Working under pressure: Evidence from the impacts of soccer fans on players’ performance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 212-215.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    performance under pressure; choking; paradoxical performance effects on incentives; social pressure;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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