Contests & Conflict | 06/22/2022 | 06:00 PM
On Being Unpredictable and Winning

Speaker: Carsten K.W. De Dreu

Date & Time: Los Angeles (9 am), Cincinnati (12 pm), Bath (5 pm), Munich (6 pm), Beijing (June 23, 12 am), Singapore (June 23, 12 am), Sydney (June 23, 2 am)

Carsten K.W. De Dreu will present the paper titled "On Being Unpredictable and Winning" (joint work with Andrea Arciniegas, Jörg Gross, Laura C. Hoenig, Michael Rojek-Giffin, and Daan T. Scheepers).

Abstract of the Paper:
Eruptions of anger and erratic mixing of cooperation and competition can make competitors unpredictable to outside observers and opponents. According to Rational Choice Theory (RCT), being unpredictability can be strategically advantageous. However, core assumptions underlying RCT have been questioned and cognitive science suggests that people have difficulty making themselves truly unpredictable. Here we examine the biobehavioral origins and consequences of unpredictability when aiming to outmaneuver one’s competitor, or to protect against being exploited. Meta-analyzing nine interactive contest experiments (N=650) shows that individuals are unpredictable especially during attack and this increases their probability of winning. In contrast to RCT, however, unpredictability emerges in part because individuals invest out-of-equilibrium, which is irrational from a payoff-maximizing perspective. Follow-up experiments (N=53 dyads) uncover that attacker (but not defender) unpredictability associates with elevated pre-contest testosterone and cardio-vascular stress reactivity. Being unpredictable originates in competitive arousal and increases the likelihood of winning at a cost to both victor and victim. 

Chair: Subhasish Chowdhury, Co-Chair: Kai A. Konrad

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Max-Planck-Institut für Steuerrecht und Öffentliche Finanzen

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