Predictably Competitive? What Faces Can Tell Us About Competitive Behavior

42 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2021 Last revised: 6 Mar 2023

See all articles by Loukas Balafoutas

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck

Helena Fornwagner

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics

Brit Grosskopf

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 6, 2023

Abstract

Competition for limited resources is ubiquitous in social and economic life and has sparked a large body of research on the determinants of competitive behavior. While we know a lot about the role of contextual factors and personality traits, the potential link between competitive behavior and physical appearance remains unexplored. In this study we test whether objective facial characteristics and subjective attractiveness ratings are related to the competitive behavior in the form of opting for a tournament payment scheme in a real-effort task. We find no association for any of the examined characteristics. Nevertheless, we show that individuals are significantly better than chance at predicting the competitiveness of experimental participants, just by looking at their headshots. These findings advance our understanding of the role of observable physical characteristics as telltale signs of behavior.

Keywords: competition, attractiveness, physical appearance, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D91

Suggested Citation

Balafoutas, Loukas and Fornwagner, Helena and Grosskopf, Brit, Predictably Competitive? What Faces Can Tell Us About Competitive Behavior (March 6, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3810616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3810616

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Helena Fornwagner (Contact Author)

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics ( email )

Streatham Court
Exeter, EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.helenafornwagner.com

Brit Grosskopf

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics ( email )

Streatham Court
Exeter, EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

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