Gender identity and competition: a virtual reality experiment

Last registered on May 16, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Gender identity and competition: a virtual reality experiment
Initial registration date
May 15, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 16, 2022, 5:21 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (CES), Paris School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Gender differences in competitiveness have been studied extensively in experimental economics, and are often put forth as an important contributor to the gender-wage gap. Recent work in psychology uses virtual reality (VR) to embody individuals in bodies with different characteristics, including sex, and reports corresponding changes in the perception of the self. Specifically, embodiment in the body of the opposite sex has recently been shown to lead participants to identify more with the opposite sex and to increase self-attribution of traits stereotypically associated with the opposite sex, including competitiveness (Tacikowski et al., 2020). Evidence on whether these self-reported results on attitudes extend to behavior is lacking. The objective of this project is to test the impact of such gender identity manipulations on selection into competitive environments in the lab.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Rapoport, Nina. 2022. "Gender identity and competition: a virtual reality experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 16.
Experimental Details


Using a head-mounted display (HMD), participants will be embodied in a virtual body whose sex either matches their own ("same-sex") or does not ("opposite-sex").
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Tournament entry (selection into competitive environment)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The main outcome this design will allow to compare across treatments is individual selection into competitive environments - the proportion of men/women choosing the tournament option. If Tacikowski et al. (2020)’s results replicate and materialize in participants’ actual choices, the gender gap in competitiveness will be reduced under Opposite-sex embodiment due to men (women) behaving less (more) competitively than under Same-sex embodiment.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Efficiency - the gains of men/women
Elicited beliefs on relative performance
Risk preferences
Self-rating of competitiveness and other stereotypically male/female traits
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Performance - the number of correctly solved trials under the difference compensation schemes (piece-rate, forced tournament, compensation method of choice)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The goal of the experiment is to test whether the impact of manipulations targeting gender identity extends beyond the previously documented effect on attitudes (implicit and explicit) to behavior. Specifically, whether opposite-sex embodiment via virtual reality impacts individuals’ choices about whether to enter competitive environments.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Participants draw a piece of paper with a number between 1-4 assigning them to a room with a same sex or opposite sex video
Randomization Unit
Individual randomization
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
200 (estimated) individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
200 (estimated) individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 (estimated) individuals in each treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institutional Review Board - Paris School of Economics
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number