Wanting to Control

Alessandra Cassar (University of San Francisco)
Mary Rigdon (Rutgers University)

Abstract: We advance the hypothesis that women are not less competitive than men once experimental games include factors that matter to women. We contend that when choosing how much effort to exert in highly rewarding but risky environments, cash prizes are not the only factor that motivates individuals to compete and allowing the winners to express some prosociality towards the losers has gendered consequence on individual competitiveness. An experiment conducted online confirms our hypothesis: adding an element of prosociality where top performers earn the right to control how to split the prize between winners and losers significantly increases female performance to levels indistinguishable from males, whose performance stays unchanged.