Bad Losers? Bad Winners? The Effect of the Quality of Competitors on Dishonesty and Effort in Repeated Competitions

34 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2020 Last revised: 5 Aug 2020

See all articles by Sarah Necker

Sarah Necker

University of Freiburg

Fabian Paetzel

University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Helmut Schmidt Universit├Ąt; DFG Research Group 2104

Date Written: August 02, 2020

Abstract

Competitive rewards are often assigned on a regular basis, e.g., in annual salary negotiations or employee-of-the-month schemes. In many settings, this implies that the quality of the competitor varies with earlier outcomes. Using a real-effort experiment, we examine how dishonesty and effort evolve in two rounds of competitions in which subjects are matched with different types of competitors in the second round (random/based on first round outcome). We find that (i) first round losers increase cheating in the second round while winners tend to reduce cheating. (ii) Individuals do not anticipate the possibility of a more difficult opponent. In line with expectations, winners increase reported points (sum of effort and cheating) when competing against another winner. This cannot be ascribed to an increase in cheating or effort alone.

Keywords: Dishonesty, effort, competition, competitor, social recognition, laboratory experiment

JEL Classification: C91, C92, M52, J28, J33

Suggested Citation

Necker, Sarah and Paetzel, Fabian, Bad Losers? Bad Winners? The Effect of the Quality of Competitors on Dishonesty and Effort in Repeated Competitions (August 02, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3506551

Sarah Necker (Contact Author)

University of Freiburg ( email )

Fahnenbergplatz
Freiburg, D-79085
Germany

Fabian Paetzel

University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Helmut Schmidt Universit├Ąt ( email )

Holstenhofweg 85
Hamburg, 22008
Germany

DFG Research Group 2104 ( email )

Holstenhofweg 85
Hamburg, DE 22043
Germany

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