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Damaging the perfect image of athletes: How sport promotes envy

  • Jérémy CELSE

We explore the behavioural and affective differences between subjects practicing sport activities and subjects not practicing sport. Are athletes more distressed by unfavourable social comparisons and more prone to engage in hostile behaviour than non-athletes? Using experimental methods, we investigate the connection between sport practice and antisocial behaviour. In our experiment we capture the satisfaction subjects derive from unflattering social comparisons by asking them to evaluate their satisfaction after being informed of their own endowment and after being informed of their opponent’s endowment. Then subjects can decide to reduce their opponent’s endowment by incurring a cost. We observe that sport plays a key role on both individual well-being and behaviour: 1) sport practice amplifies the negative impact of unfavourable social comparisons on individual well-being and 2) sport practice exerts subjects to reduce others’ income. Besides the satisfaction sporty subjects report from social comparisons predicts their decisions to reduce others’ income. Finally we provide empirical evidences suggesting that envy affects significantly athletes’ satisfaction and behaviour.

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File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2011-16.pdf
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Paper provided by LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier in its series Working Papers with number 11-16.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision: Jun 2011
Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:11-16
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  1. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  2. Jérémy Celse, 2009. "Will Joe the Plumber envy Bill Gates? The impact of both absolute and relative differences on interdependent preferences," Working Papers 09-26, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Dec 2009.
  3. Bosman, Ronald & Sutter, Matthias & van Winden, Frans, 2005. "The impact of real effort and emotions in the power-to-take game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 407-429, June.
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  9. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  10. Jérémy Celse, 2010. "Sketching Envy from Philosophy to Psychology," Working Papers 10-22, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised 2010.
  11. Nicolas Eber, 2006. "Les sportifs sont-ils (vraiment) différents ?. Une approche par l'économie expérimentale," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 57(3), pages 623-633.
  12. Daniel Miles & Máximo Rossi, 2006. "Learning about one’s relative position and subjective well-being," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0906, Department of Economics - dECON.
  13. van Dijk, W.W. & van der Pligt, J. & Zeelenberg, M., 1999. "Effort invested in vain : The impact of effort on the intensity of disappointment and regret," Other publications TiSEM 4746cce1-ce4d-4fea-b3c4-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  14. John M. Barron & Bradley T. Ewing & Glen R. Waddell, 2000. "The Effects Of High School Athletic Participation On Education And Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 409-421, August.
  15. Bradley Ewing, 1995. "High school athletics and the wages of black males," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 65-78, June.
  16. Ronald Bosman & Frans van Winden, 2002. "Emotional Hazard in a Power-to-take Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 147-169, January.
  17. Ewing, Bradley T., 1998. "Athletes and work," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 113-117, April.
  18. Jérémy Celse, 2010. "Envy in Othello. Can effort explain such a tragic issue?," Working Papers 10-23, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised 2010.
  19. Claudia Senik, 2005. "Income distribution and well-being: what can we learn from subjective data?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 43-63, 02.
  20. Ben-Shakhar, Gershon & Bornstein, Gary & Hopfensitz, Astrid & van Winden, Frans, 2007. "Reciprocity and emotions in bargaining using physiological and self-report measures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 314-323, June.
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