Work in Progress

How Stress Affects Performance and Competitiveness across Gender

 with Jana Cahlíková and Ian Levely
Abstract: We study how psycho-social stress affects willingness to compete and performance under tournament incentives across gender. The work has implications for gender gaps on the labor market, since many key career events involve competition in stressful settings (e.g. entrance exams or job interviews). We use a laboratory economic experiment in which a task is compensated under both tournament and piece-rate schemes and elicit subjects’ willingness to compete. Stress is exogenously introduced through a modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test, and stress response is measured by salivary cortisol levels. We find that stress reduces willingness to compete. For female subjects, this can be explained by performance: while tournament incentives increase output in the control group, women in the stress treatment actually perform worse when competition is introduced. For males, output is not affected by the stress treatment and lower competitiveness seems to be preference-based. These results may explain previous findings that men and women react differently to tournament incentives.

Collusion in Multiobject Auctions: Experimental Evidence

with Jindřich Matoušek

Abstract: We experimentally examine the attributes  of two complex  multi-unit  auction mechanisms in the presence of an opportunity to collude among bidding participants due  to  a  provision of a simple communication channel. The results suggest that the combinatorial  bidding  format  does not bring  higher efficiency. Allowing for communication increases  efficiency  in  both examined auction formats. Bidders  are able to split the auctioned goods in a cheap-talk collusive agreement, which results in  a  better allocation compared to the auction formats without the communication channel. Combinatorial bidding on packages makes the decision-making problem of bidders hard to process and cause inefficiencies, especially for designs with the large number  of auctioned goods.

Are juvenile delinquents incorrigible? Experimental evidence from detention centers

With Václav Korbel

Abstract: This paper investigates the differences in norm-violating behavior between juvenile delinquents and regular adolescents. We conducted a lab-in-the-field experiment in juvenile detention centers and primary schools to study changes in norm-violation in response to two specific contexts: (i) when participants are exposed to a (un)favorable economic situation and (ii) when social values are made more salient. Our results show generally substantial similarities between problematic and non-problematic adolescents. Even though the juvenile delinquents violate norms slightly more, we found no evidence of ingroup favoritism. Moreover, both groups similarly care about their social image and are not very sensitive to positive cues. Looking at the behavioral characteristics of the delinquents, higher norm-violation is correlated with interpersonal problems but not other misbehaviors. Our findings thus show that juvenile delinquents are not inherently different to non-problematic adolescents and highlight the importance of social values as well as interpersonal problems for successful resocialization.

Financial Speculations, Gender & Stress: Laboratory Evidence

With Miroslav Zajíček

Abstract: In this paper we study the effects of acute stress on speculative behavior using a controlled laboratory experiment with 208 healthy subjects. We employ a recently introduced measure that captures individual speculative behavior, the Speculation Elicitation Task, and an efficient stress-inducing procedure, the Trier Social Stress Test for Groups, and pay special attention to the gender-specific effects. Our design allows for the separation of the main channels behind the treatment effects. We observe strong gender differences: The treatment – stress-inducing – procedure increases men’s willingness to speculate compared to control men, but it decreases it for women by about the same amount. As we do not observe any change in the task-specific risk-preferences, and only a little change in the strategic expectations of shift in others’ behavior and in the abilities for k-level thinking, we conclude that the behavioral change is driven by the change in preferences, although in the opposite directions for both genders. The analysis of salivary cortisol and subjective mood shows that the subjects were under a considerable level of stress.