Can Losing Leads to Winning?
26 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2008 Last revised: 4 Jan 2012
Date Written: 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.
Keywords: Competition, Motivation, Performance
JEL Classification: M2, M31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation