Gender Differences in the Strategies Used for Task Completion: An Analysis of Marathon Runners

49 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 23 Sep 2023

See all articles by Eric J. Allen

Eric J. Allen

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - School of Business Administration

Patricia Dechow

USC Marshall School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 1, 2023

Abstract

We examine the strategies adopted by people completing a well-defined but difficult task: running a marathon. We find that men relative to women, undertake riskier running strategies, which increases the likelihood of a fast finish time but also increases the risk of a very poor race outcome. We show that engaging in this risky running strategy is mitigated for men who set themselves an internal goal of beating a round number finish time and for men who have more experience (i.e., fast runners). These findings suggest that engaging in pre-race planning and setting a time goal is more helpful for males because it combats their tendency to exert too much effort early in the race. Female runners on the other hand, run more conservatively whether or not they have set themselves a round number time goal or have more experience. Furthermore, women appear to care much less about beating round number times, suggesting that women place less weight on the “bragging rights” offered by this goal. Overall, our results suggest that the genders differ in the strategies they adopt to run a marathon and that setting a round finish time goal has a positive influence on male behavior.

Keywords: goal setting, reference points, gender, overconfidence, marathon

JEL Classification: D03, J16, D81

Suggested Citation

Allen, Eric J. and Dechow, Patricia, Gender Differences in the Strategies Used for Task Completion: An Analysis of Marathon Runners (June 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3536645 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3536645

Eric J. Allen (Contact Author)

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - School of Business Administration ( email )

United States

Patricia Dechow

USC Marshall School of Business ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-0441
United States

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