Predictably Competitive: What Faces Can Tell Us About Competitive Behavior

19 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2021

See all articles by Loukas Balafoutas

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck

Helena Fornwagner

University of Regensburg

Brit Grosskopf

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 21, 2021

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, no link has been established between competitive behavior and physical appearance. In this study, we document 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 better than chance at predicting the competitiveness of experimental participants, just by looking at participants’ 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

Balafoutas, Loukas and Fornwagner, Helena and Grosskopf, Brit, Predictably Competitive: What Faces Can Tell Us About Competitive Behavior (March 21, 2021). 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 Regensburg ( email )

Universitstrasse 31
Regensberg D-93053
Germany

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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