Women Will Compete Against Self, but Not Others, to Improve Performance

A woman is less likely to choose competition than a man, even when she performs equally well, unless competing with herself for a better outcome, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, George Mason University and the German Institute for Economic Research or DIW.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Coren Apicella, an assistant professor of psychology, teamed up with Johanna Mollerstrom of DIW and Elif Demiral of George Mason to conduct the research, a two-part study with a lab and online component.

Overall, they determined that “women are just as focused as men on self-improvement and mastery; they want to get better,” Apicella says. “But they shy away from competing against others.”

The researchers will publish their results in AER: Papers and Proceedings, the journal of the American Economic Association.

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