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When Falling Just Short is a Good Thing: The Effect of Past Performance on Improvement

Mariya Burdina and Scott Hiller

Journal of Sports Economics, 2021, vol. 22, issue 7, 777-798

Abstract: Models of reference-dependent preferences show that an individual’s utility depends on the difference between the outcome and a “neutral†reference point. Our paper investigates how distance from reference points affects future performance. We find that round numbers and personal bests motivate runners and that missing the goal by a small amount improves future performance. For those who achieve their goal, future performance suffers slightly. In empirical analysis, we use an extensive panel of marathon data, which contains a past running history for every runner in our sample and allows us to estimate runners’ ability and experience.

Keywords: reference dependence; round numbers; performance; marathons (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/15270025211018247

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Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:22:y:2021:i:7:p:777-798