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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The well-established gender gap in preferences for competition has been attributed to gender-variant feelings about performing in competitive environments. Using a novel task with agency, in which subjects experience competition but cannot perform, we find evidence that performing may be sufficient but not necessary to generate gender-variant preferences for competition. This suggests that the gender-gap cannot be eliminated by correcting beliefs alone; that eliminating performance—for example, routinizing tasks—may not eliminate the gender gap; and that there may be heretofore unidentified determinants of preferences for competition—for example, men may prefer payment schemes that are based on social comparison. (JEL J16, C91, J24)


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ifcher, J., & Zarghamee, H. (2016). Do Gender-Variant Preferences for Competition Persist in the Absence of Performance? Economic Inquiry, 54(4), 1918–1930, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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