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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jérémy CELSE, 2011. "Damaging the perfect image of athletes: How sport promotes envy," Working Papers 11-16, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:11-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Athletes are more competitive, but also more destructively envious
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-01-05 21:01:00

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