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Competitive Preferences and Status as an Incentive Experimental Evidence Gary Charness David Masclet Marie Claire Villeval 17 June 2010 Abstract In this paper we investigate individuals investment in status in an environment where no monetary return can possibly be derived from reaching a better relative position We use a real effort experiment in which we permit individuals to learn and potentially improve their status rank We find that people express both intrinsic motivation and a taste for status Indeed people increase their effort when they are simply informed about their relative performance and people pay both to sabotage others output and to artificially increase their own relative performance In addition stronger group identity favors positive rivalry and discourages sabotage among peers Keywords Status seeking rank competitive preferences experiment JEL Classifications C91 C92 M54 D63 J28 J31 Contact Gary Charness Department of Economics University of California Santa Barbara 2127 North Hall Santa Barbara CA 93106 9210 E mail charness econ ucsb edu David Masclet CREM CNRS University of Rennes 7 place Hoche 35000 Rennes France and CIRANO Montreal Canada E mail david masclet univ rennes1 fr Marie Claire Villeval GATE CNRS University of Lyon 93 Chemin des Mouilles 69130 Ecully France IZA Bonn Germany and CCP Aarhus Denmark E mail villeval gate cnrs fr Acknowledgments The authors thank Nagore Iriberri for comments on a previous version of this paper and Elven Priour for programming the experiment Financial support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche ANR 08 JCJC 0105 01 CONFLICT project and ANR BLAN073 185547 EMIR project is gratefully acknowledged 1 INTRODUCTION While standard economic theory assumes that individuals only care about their individual payoffs there are many situations in which people exhibit a strong concern for social comparisons and status In economics social comparisons have been shown to influence both behavior see for example Glaeser

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