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Psychological Momentum and Gender


  • Cohen-Zada, Danny

    () (Ben Gurion University)

  • Krumer, Alex

    () (University of St. Gallen)

  • Shtudiner, Ze'ev

    () (Ariel University)


We exploit a natural experiment in which two professionals compete in a one-stage contest without strategic motives and where one contestant has a clear exogenous psychological momentum advantage over the other in order to estimate the causal effect of psychological momentum on performance. We find that men's performance is significantly affected by psychological momentum, while women's is not. This result is robust to different specifications and estimation strategies. Our results are in line with evidence in the biological literature that testosterone, which is known to enhance performance of both men and women, commonly increases following victory and decreases following loss only among men. Implications of our findings for contest design are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Cohen-Zada, Danny & Krumer, Alex & Shtudiner, Ze'ev, 2016. "Psychological Momentum and Gender," IZA Discussion Papers 9845, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9845

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alex Krumer, 2017. "On Winning Probabilities, Weight Categories, and Home Advantage in Professional Judo," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 18(1), pages 77-96, January.
    2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
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    4. Arkes Jeremy, 2010. "Revisiting the Hot Hand Theory with Free Throw Data in a Multivariate Framework," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, January.
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    7. Joshua B. Miller & Adam Sanjurjo, 2014. "A Cold Shower for the Hot Hand Fallacy," Working Papers 518, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    8. 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.
    9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    10. Mago, Shakun D. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Yates, Andrew, 2013. "Best-of-three contest experiments: Strategic versus psychological momentum," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 287-296.
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    12. Romain Gauriot & Lionel Page, 2014. "Does success breed success? A quasi-experiment on strategic momentum in dynamic contests," QuBE Working Papers 028, QUT Business School.
    13. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    14. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    15. Clifford S. Asness & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2013. "Value and Momentum Everywhere," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(3), pages 929-985, June.
    16. David A. Malueg & Andrew J. Yates, 2010. "Testing Contest Theory: Evidence from Best-of-Three Tennis Matches," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 689-692, August.
    17. Klaassen F. J G M & Magnus J. R., 2001. "Are Points in Tennis Independent and Identically Distributed? Evidence From a Dynamic Binary Panel Data Model," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 500-509, June.
    18. Catherine C. Eckel & Sascha C. Füllbrunn, 2015. "Thar SHE Blows? Gender, Competition, and Bubbles in Experimental Asset Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 906-920, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Cohen-Zada, Danny & Krumer, Alex & Rosenboim, Mosi & Shapir, Offer Moshe, 2017. "Choking under pressure and gender: Evidence from professional tennis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 176-190.
    3. Krumer, Alex & Lechner, Michael, 2016. "Midweek Effect on Performance: Evidence from the German Soccer Bundesliga," Economics Working Paper Series 1609, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    4. Iqbal, Hamzah & Krumer, Alex, 2017. "Discouragement Effect and Intermediate Prizes in Multi-Stage Contests: Evidence from Tennis’s Davis Cup," Economics Working Paper Series 1719, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    5. Cohen-Zada, Danny & Krumer, Alex & Shapir, Offer Moshe, 2017. "Take a Chance on ABBA," IZA Discussion Papers 10878, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. repec:eee:eecrev:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:412-427 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Krumer, Alex & Lechner, Michael, 2016. "First In First Win: Evidence on Unfairness of Round-Robin Tournaments in Mega-Events," Economics Working Paper Series 1611, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

    More about this item


    psychological momentum; contest; gender differences; performance;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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