Risk Taking And Performance In Multistage Tournaments: Evidence From Weightlifting Competitions
Source: Centre for Economic Performance
The authors analyze the impact of interim ranking on the risk taking and performance behaviour of professional athletes participating in international weightlifting competitions. Weightlifting competitions are multistage tournaments with the unique characteristic that the athletes must announce in advance the amount they intend to lift at each stage, thus allowing quantification of the riskiness of their choices. They present two key findings. First, risk taking exhibits an inverted-U relationship with rank: risk taking increases up to rank six, but athletes then revert to safer strategies towards the bottom of the ranking. Second, athletes systematically underperform when ranked closer to the top, despite higher incentives to perform well.