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J Econ Behav Organ. 2012 Jun;83-334(1):125-135.

Distributional preferences and competitive behavior.

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University of Innsbruck, Austria.


We study experimentally the relationship between distributional preferences and competitive behavior. We find that spiteful subjects react strongest to competitive pressure and win in a tournament significantly more often than efficiency-minded and inequality averse subjects. However, when given the choice between a tournament and a piece rate scheme, efficiency-minded subjects choose the tournament most often, while spiteful and inequality averse subjects avoid it. When controlling for distributional preferences, risk attitudes and past performance, the gender gap in the willingness to compete is no longer significant, indicating that gender-related variables explain why twice as many men as women self-select into competition.


Competition; Distributional preferences; Gender gap

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