Overconfidence and Preferences for Competition

Ernesto Reuben, Paola Sapienza, Luigi Zingales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study when preferences for competition are a positive economic trait among high earners and the extent to which this trait can explain the gender gap in income among a master's degree in business administration (MBAs). Consistent with the experimental evidence, preferences for competition are a positive economic trait only for individuals who are not overconfident. Preferences for competition correlate with income only at graduation when bonuses are guaranteed and not a function of performance. Overconfident competition-loving MBAs observe lower compensation and income growth, and experience greater exit from high-reward industries and more frequent job interruptions. Preferences for competition do not explain the gender pay gap among MBAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1121
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Finance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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