The Tiger Effect

by Patrick Appel

Brayden King passes along a study:

My colleague in Kellogg’s management and strategy group, Jennifer Brown, has done some interesting research that might have implications for how we think about self-fulfilling prophecy. Her research on rank-ordered tournaments suggests that people actually perform worse when competing in the same tournament as a superstar. The context is the PGA tour. The superstar, of course, is Tiger Woods. She finds that when players compete with Tiger Woods their score is, on average, .2 strokes higher than normal (if you don’t follow golf, a high score is bad). The reason for this, she suggests, is that players don’t try as hard when Woods is in the field. The effect disappears when Woods is having a bad day, suggesting that players pick up their performance when they feel they have a chance.