Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2342396
 


 



The 'Rationality' of the Long Distance Runner: Prospect Theory and the Marathon


Eric J. Allen


University of Southern California - Leventhal School of Accounting

Patricia M. Dechow


University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

October 9, 2013


Abstract:     
We examine whether marathon runners exhibit behavior consistent with the assumptions of prospect theory. We test whether round number finishing times (three hours, four hours, etc.) are used as reference points and whether runners increase their effort at the end of the race to avoid the “loss” of missing the reference point. While we find that all runners exhibit evidence of reference dependence and loss aversion with regard to the hypothesized reference points, we find that males act more in line with the predictions of prospect theory than females. First, we find more extreme bunching of finish times at round numbers in the male distribution. We also find that males are more likely than females to speed up when doing so will help them meet a round number finish time. We then investigate whether Boston Marathon qualifying times are used as reference points for “elite” runners. In contrast to our results for round number finishing times, we find that elite female runners act in a similar manner to elite males and exert similar effort at the end of the race to meet these reference points. This suggests that females who endure the training to become elite runners have similar competitive profiles to males.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: marathon, prospect theory, loss aversion, reference points, gender differences

JEL Classification: A1, D03, I1,M3, M4, J3, D8

working papers series





Download This Paper

Date posted: October 20, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Allen, Eric J. and Dechow, Patricia M., The 'Rationality' of the Long Distance Runner: Prospect Theory and the Marathon (October 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2342396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2342396

Contact Information

Eric J. Allen (Contact Author)
University of Southern California - Leventhal School of Accounting ( email )
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0441
United States
Patricia M. Dechow
University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )
545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 829
Downloads: 173
Download Rank: 104,643

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.297 seconds