The impact of psychological traits on performance in sequential tournaments: Evidence from a tennis field experiment

Christoph Bühren, Philip J. Steinberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Extant research has analyzed the impact of player position (first- versus second-mover) on individual performance in sequential tournaments. However, it remains unclear whether the first- or second-mover experiences an advantage in such tournaments. We argue that prior literature has ignored heterogeneity of psychological traits and incentive schemes. We conducted a tennis field experiment using the ABBA sequence, in which we do not find a first- or second-mover advantage on game level. However, on shot level (taking into account single moves) we observe, on average, a second-mover advantage. Analyzing the impact of psychological traits, we find that subjects with high self-esteem faced a second-mover advantage whereas subjects with low self-esteem faced a first-mover advantage on shot level. We do not observe significant moderating influences of individual, team, or tournament incentive schemes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)12-29
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Jun-2019


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    • 3020
    • 3630
    • 3720
    • Experiment
    • Performance under pressure
    • Psychological traits
    • Second-mover advantage
    • Sequential tournaments
    • Tennis
    • Theory of core self-evaluation

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