Predictably Competitive: What Faces Can Tell Us About Competitive Behavior
19 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2021 Last revised: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: March 21, 2021
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, no link has been established between competitive behavior and physical appearance. In this study, we document for the first time a strong positive association between attractiveness, measured through ratings of headshots from experimental participants, and the competitive behavior of female participants in the form of opting for a tournament payment scheme in a real-effort task. We also show that individuals are sometimes better than chance at predicting the competitiveness of experimental participants, just by looking at their headshots. These findings significantly advance our understanding of the factors that underlie competitive attitudes and of the role of observable physical characteristics as telltale signs of behavior.
Keywords: gender, competitiveness, attractiveness, experiment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation