Gender differences in sabotage: the role of uncertainty and beliefs

  • Simon DatoEmail author
  • Petra Nieken
Original Paper


We study gender differences in relation to performance and sabotage in competitions. While we find no systematic gender differences in performance in the real effort task, we observe a strong gender gap in sabotage choices in our experiment. This gap is rooted in the uncertainty about the opponent’s sabotage: in the absence of information about the opponent’s sabotage choice, males expect to suffer from sabotage to a higher degree than females and choose higher sabotage levels themselves. If beliefs are exogenously aligned by implementing sabotage via strategy method, the gender gap in sabotage choices disappears. Moreover, providing a noisy signal about the sabotage level from which subjects might suffer leads to an endogenous alignment of beliefs and eliminates the gender gap in sabotage.


Gender Sabotage Tournament Belief formation 

JEL Classification

J16 M12 C91 



We would like to thank the participants of the Economic Science Association Meeting, Heidelberg, SFB-TR 15 Young Researcher Workshop, Bonn, Stavanger Workshop on Incentives and Motivation, Stavanger, Economics Seminar Series University of East Anglia, Norwich, ULME Economics Seminar, University Ulm, 20th Colloquium on Personnel Economics, Zurich, EEA-ESEM 2018, Cologne, and in particular Subhasish Chowdhury, Matthias Kräkel, Anders Poulsen, Ed Lazear, Bettina Rockenbach, Dirk Sliwka, and Robert Sudgen for their helpful comments as well as Niklas Wagner for programming the experimental software. Financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Grant SFB/TR 15, is gratefully acknowledged

Supplementary material

10683_2019_9613_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (176 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 176 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Chair of Human Resource Management, Institute of ManagementKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany

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