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Causes of Gender Differences in Competition: Theory and Evidence

  • Christopher Cotton

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Frank McIntyre
  • Joseph Price

We use a game theoretic model of contests to assess different explanations for the male performance advantage in competition. Comparing the testable predictions of the model with the empirical evidence, we reject explanations involving male overcon- fidence, misperceptions about relative ability, and some preference differences. Ex- planations involving female underconfidence, stereotype threat, and adverse female reaction to competition are consistent with only some of the evidence, and an expla- nation involving lower male risk aversion is consistent with most of the evidence. Two explanations are consistent with all of the evidence: (i) male ability to perform may in- crease in the face of competition, possibly due to changes in testosterone or adrenaline; or (ii) males may care more about winning or get greater enjoyment from competition than females.

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File URL: http://www.bus.miami.edu/_assets/files/faculty-and-research/academic-departments/eco/eco-working-papers/2010/wp-2010-19-Causes-of-Gender-Differences.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Paper provided by University of Miami, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2010-19.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming: Under Review
Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2010-19
Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O. Box 248126, Coral Gables, FL 33124-6550
Phone: (305) 284-5540
Fax: (305) 284-2985
Web page: http://www.bus.miami.edu/faculty-and-research/academic-departments/economics/index.html

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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Matthews, Peter Hans & Schirm, John, 2007. "Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2972, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. G√ľnther, Christina & Ekinci, Neslihan Arslan & Schwieren, Christiane & Strobel, Martin, 2010. "Women can't jump?--An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 395-401, September.
  3. Christopher Cotton & Frank McIntyre & Joseph Price, 2010. "The Gender Gap Cracks Under Pressure: A Detailed Look at Male and Female Performance Differences During Competitions," NBER Working Papers 16436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
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