Competitive Behavior, Stress, and Gender

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Title: Competitive Behavior, Stress, and Gender
Author: Halko, Marja-Liisa; Sääksvuori, Lauri
Publisher: HECER - Helsinki Center of Economic Research
Date: 2015-11
Language: en
Belongs to series: HECER Discussion Paper No. 396
ISSN: 1795-0562
Description: This paper investigates whether chronic stress and acute physiological responses to competitive stress can explain individual and gender differences in competitiveness. We measure individuals' autonomic nervous system activity in a resting state as well as under non-competitive and competitive incentives in a real task using heart rate variability measurement. We find that basal heart rate variability, a proxy for chronic stress, and acute competition-induced changes in heart rate variability predict self-selection into competition. Moreover, we observe that basal heart rate variability predicts self-selection into competition for women, but not for men. Overall, we find tentative evidence for gender differences in the relationship between physiological stress and a decision to enter competitive environments. Our results suggest that individual variation in autonomic nervous system activity and physiological responses to competitive stress predict selfselection into competitive environments, but do not explain gender differences in willingness to compete.
Subject: competitiveness
labour market

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