The Impact of Stress on Tournament Entry

Reprint No. 2017:26

Author(s): Thomas Buser, Anna Dreber and Johanna MöllerströmYear: 2017 Title: Experimental Economics Volume (No.): 20 (2) Pages: 506–530
Online article (restrictions may apply)

Individual willingness to enter competitive environments predicts career choices and labor market outcomes. Meanwhile, many people experience competitive contexts as stressful. We use two laboratory experiments to investigate whether factors related to stress can help explain individual differences in tournament entry. Experiment 1 studies whether stress responses (measured as salivary cortisol) to taking part in a mandatory tournament predict individual willingness to participate in a voluntary tournament. We find that competing increases stress levels. This cortisol response does not predict tournament entry for men but is positively and significantly correlated with choosing to enter the tournament for women. In Experiment 2, we exogenously induce physiological stress using the cold-pressor task. We find a positive causal effect of stress on tournament entry for women but no effect for men. Finally, we show that although the effect of stress on tournament entry differs between the genders, stress reactions cannot explain the well-documented gender difference in willingness to compete.

Buser, Thomas, Anna Dreber and Johanna Möllerström (2017), "The Impact of Stress on Tournament Entry". Experimental Economics 20(2), 506–530.

An Agenda for Europe

Institutional Reform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Omslag 2017 Institutional Reform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.jpg

The authors of this book, Niklas Elert, Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula, advise the economies of the European Union to become more entrepreneurial in promoting innovation and economic growth. The authors propose a reform strategy with respect to several aspects to achieve this goal.


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