Rivalry can make us take more risks, new research suggests. Researchers studied the interactions between rival and non-rival teams on fourth downs in more than 2,000 NFL games from 2002-2010.
“Our hypothesis was if you’re playing or competing against a rival, you’re more likely to take risks,” says Lisa Ordóñez, vice dean of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and the person responsible for securing the large and comprehensive dataset. Ordóñez and her colleagues identified two risky behaviors on the gridiron: going for it on fourth down instead of punting and going for a two-point conversion by run or pass instead of the extra-point kick. “In both cases, we found that when you’re playing a rival you’re more likely to go for it,” Ordóñez says. “You’re more likely to go for it on fourth down, you’re more likely to go for the two-point conversion. We thought that was really interesting, but it really just got us started.”
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