Can Losing Leads to Winning?
Jonah A. Berger
University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department
Devin G. Pope
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business
September 15, 2009
Can losing during a competitive task motivate individuals and teams to exert greater effort and perform better overall? Analysis of over 45,000 collegiate and 18,000 professional basketball games illustrates that being slightly behind at halftime leads to a discontinuous increase in winning percentage. Teams that are losing by a small amount win approximately 2 (NCAA) and 6 (NBA) percentage points more often than expected. In the NBA, this psychological effect is roughly half the size of the proverbial home-team advantage. Additional experimental evidence corroborates the field test and casts doubt on alternative explanations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: Competition, Motivation, Performance
JEL Classification: M2, M31working papers series
Date posted: November 24, 2008 ; Last revised: January 4, 2012
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