Research on competitiveness at the individual level has emphasized sex as a physiological determinant, focusing on the gap in preference for competitive environments between young men and women. This study presents evidence that women’s preferences over competition change with age such that the gender gap, while large for young adults, disappears in older populations due to the fact that older women are much more competitive. Our finding that tastes for competition appear just as strong among older women as they are among men suggests a simple gender-based view of competitiveness is misleading; age seems just as important as sex. These findings are consistent with one of the most commonly cited views on the deeper origins of gender differences: that they stem at least in part from human evolution.
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