This paper for the first time adopts economic field experiments for 267 children aged 8 to 11 from the third to fifth grades of a rural primary school in central China as subjects to study the impact of success and failure in a competition on children’s follow-up goal-setting and competition entry decision-making. The study finds that after the feedback of competition results, winning children will set a goal that is lower than their own ability, and losers will set a goal that is similar to their own ability while increasing their efforts to improve their performance. Ultimately losers achieve scores similar to the successful ones. In terms of the competition entry decision, success in a competition generates significant positive incentives for follow-up competition entry. Children getting success in the first round are significantly more active to choose to compete with others in the follow-up competition choice and ultimately obtain higher scores. We also find that success and failure experiences have a more significant impact on girls’ goal-setting and competition entry decision. Winning girls become more conservative in following rounds, such as setting a goal that is significantly lower than their ability, and less active to choose to compete with others. Compared with the existing literature, this study verifies the positive effect of failure experiences on self-improvement and the negative impact on competition entry with others from a new perspective. It also provides new insights into understanding the impact of winning and losing experiences on children’s subsequent competitive behaviors. The research results of this paper are consistent with many existing research conclusions, except for gender differences. The gender differences of this study are different from the results of the study of Dutch students, which may be due to the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. This paper has certain implications for guiding children’s development. In the process of children’s growth, on the one hand, we must follow the traditional Chinese concept of victory and defeat, that is, " winning without arrogance, and losing without discouragement”. On the other hand, we also need to balance children’s success and failure experiences. The inspiring role of success experiences and the introspective role of failure experiences allow children to learn to cope with victory and defeat in their experiences. In particular, for rural children, we should use the incentive mechanism of winning experience to guide them in underprivileged circumstances to actively participate in social interaction and social competition.
How do Success and Failure Experiences Affect Children’s Goal-Setting and Competition Entry? Evidence from Field Experiments in Central Rural China
Journal of Finance and Economics Vol. 45, Issue 03, pp. 4 - 20,33 (2019) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jfe.2019.03.001
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Cite this article
Zhao Jun, Dong Zhiqiang, Li Weicheng. How do Success and Failure Experiences Affect Children’s Goal-Setting and Competition Entry? Evidence from Field Experiments in Central Rural China[J]. Journal of Finance and Economics, 2019, 45(3): 4-20.