Gender Differences, Social Loss Aversion and Sports Performance in Japanese Schoolchildren

Gender Differences, Social Loss Aversion and Sports Performance in Japanese Schoolchildren

Yasuhiro Nakamoto (Kansai University, Japan) and Masayuki Sato (Kobe University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1933-1.ch077
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In this paper, we investigated the relationship between social loss aversion and the competitive sports performance. We found that social loss aversion significantly affected the competitive sports performance in a homogeneous group of male students, but not female students, and that these effects were consistent across various sports drills. In particular, the gender of a reference person was pivotal to determining the effects of social loss aversion. We also showed that social risk aversion did not significantly affect performance in competitive sports drills.
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1. Introduction

So far, economic preferences and performance in competitive sports activities have been treated in isolation. Alternatively, in determining whether individuals enter into a competition or not, some studies have examined the role of preferences and have shown gender differences (Cason et al., 2010; C´ardenas et al., 2012). In this paper, we used field data of competitive sports drills to investigate the relationship between preferences and performance in sports competition, and whether gender differences in this impact exist or not.

A growing body of experimental literature studies how children perform sport under different type of incentive schemes. Gender differences have been widely observed in the performance changes between solo and paired competition. For example, existing studies have indicated that men or boys enjoy competing with others (e.g., Gneezy & Rustichini, 2004) in that they can attain better records in paired rather than individual competition. More recent studies (e.g., Dreber et al., 2011; C´ardenas et al., 2012) have corroborated this finding in “masculine” sports actions such as the 50-m run, but not in “feminine ones” such as skipping rope.

However, as argued in Niederle and Vesterlund (2011), most studies do not find gender differences in competitiveness as measured from sport competitions, and stated two reasons why gender differences cannot be seen: First, sports competitions are typically within gender, . . .the gender gap in competitiveness is smaller or absent in single-sex competitions. Second, performance in a sport competition is rather precisely measured. Hence gender differences in overconfidence may be smaller in these environments, resulting in a smaller gender gap in competitiveness. In fact, these factors are commonly observed in almost all sports activities; therefore, it might be intuitively diffcult to confirm gender differences in sports competitions.

From viewpoints of gender issues, the sexual selection theory of “young-male syndrome” posits that resources map onto fitness differently for males and females, which shows that males take more risk on average than females, and in male-male environment males tend to take more risk (see Wilson and Daly 1985, Farthing 2005, Fischer & Hills, 2012). Considering that sport environment is a kind of winner-takes-all environment, and is generally held by single-sex competitions, gender differences might be based on young-male syndrome, predicting that young-male syndrome stimulates sports performance in males but not in females. Some studies offer evidence that supports this prediction (e.g., Fink et al., 2010; Hugill et al., 2011). For example, Fink et al. (2010) confirmed a significant positive relationship between handgrip strength and sensation-seeking scores in men. That is, men with stronger degrees of young-male syndrome performed better in competitive sports activities.

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