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Tiger Women: An All-Pay Auction Experiment on the Gender Heuristic of the Desire to Win

David Ong

Peking University - HSBC Business School

Zhuoqiong (Charlie) Chen

London School of Economics & Political Science

May 5, 2013

We tested whether maleness was a heuristic for higher “desire to win” (DTW) in “common value” all-pay auctions. To do this, we developed a theory to separate risk attitude and from valuation in willingness to pay to win in two player all-pay auctions with complete information and risk-averse bidders. In the experiment, we informed paired subjects of the opponent’s gender in FF, FM, MF and FF treatments and identified gender differences in DTW using the comparative statics of this theory. However, in five separate experiments, with nearly 600 subjects at undergraduate and graduate schools, we never confirmed our initial hypothesis. With the 400 subjects with whom we controlled for self-selection, we found that, instead, femaleness signaled higher DTW. Unlike prior auction experiments, in which women also bid higher than men, our design can distinguish between strategic high bidding from overbidding and demand effects. We provide initial evidence that women may be more competitive than men if ability, confidence in ability, risk attitude, self-selection and demand effects are controlled for.

The appendices for this paper are available at the following URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141181.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: experiments, all-pay auction, overbidding, gender differences, heuristic, stereotype

JEL Classification: C91, D44, J16, I20

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Date posted: December 30, 2011 ; Last revised: June 10, 2014

Suggested Citation

Ong, David and Chen, Zhuoqiong (Charlie), Tiger Women: An All-Pay Auction Experiment on the Gender Heuristic of the Desire to Win (May 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1976782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1976782

Contact Information

David Ong (Contact Author)
Peking University - HSBC Business School ( email )
Room 402, Building C
Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055
86 137-6047-4054 (Phone)
86-755-2603-5344 (Fax)
Zhuoqiong (Charlie) Chen
London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
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