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Competition-induced punishment of winners and losers: Who is the target?

Johanna Jauernig, Matthias Uhl and Christoph Luetge

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2016, vol. 57, issue C, 13-25

Abstract: We elicit punishment after competition. Our experiment creates a setting in which winners and losers are assigned in a pairwise speed-based calculation task. As in Abbink and Sadrieh’s (2009) joy-of-destruction game punishment is executed by burning parts of another participant’s endowment. We manipulate the target of punishment to investigate whether it is driven by discrimination of the direct opponent, the outgroup or by joy of destruction. Furthermore, we analyze the role that the clarity of victory or defeat plays for punishment after competition. Our findings suggest that losers face punishment from particularly dominant winners and—to a lesser degree—from particularly frustrated losers. Winners face undifferentiated punishment from all sides. Our results have implications for the prevention of destructive behavior within organizations which use competitions in order to induce effort.

Keywords: Competition; Social comparison; Winners; Losers; Joy of destruction; Money burning (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 C90 C91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2016.08.004

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