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Beauty slays chessmen [study]

When chess players go head to head, the outside of one of the heads can influence the inside of the other head, suggests this study:

Beauty queens and battling knights: Risk taking and attractiveness in chess,” Anna Dreber [pictured here], Christer Gerdes, Patrik Gränsmark, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 90, June 2013, pp. 1–18. The authors, at Stockholm School of Economics and Stockholm University, explain:

“We explore the relationship between attractiveness and risk taking in chess. We use a large international panel dataset on high-level chess competitions which includes a control for the players’ skill in chess. This data is combined with results from a survey on an online labor market where participants were asked to rate the photos of 626 expert chess players according to attractiveness. Our results suggest that male chess players choose significantly riskier strategies when playing against an attractive female opponent, even though this does not improve their performance. Women’s strategies are not affected by the attractiveness of the opponent…. [In particular, there is] evidence that playing against a more attractive female player leads to a larger propensity of choosing risky openings if the player is a man.”

(Thanks to Richard Harper for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: Combine, if you can, the results of that study with those of an earlier study by the the same authors and an additional colleague:

Facial Masculinity Predicts Risk and Time Preferences in Expert Chess Players,” Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes [pictured here], Patrik Gransmark, Anthony C. Little, SSRN abstract #2183117, November 30, 2012. The authors explain:

“In this study we examine the relationship between risk taking, impatience and facial masculinity in expert chess players. We combine a large panel-dataset from high-level chess games with measures of both risk taking and impatience in chess with facial masculinity, a proxy for testosterone exposure in puberty. We find that male players with high pubertal testosterone exposure are more impatient by playing shorter chess games. For female players, we find that facial masculinity is negatively correlated with risk taking.”


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