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Tuesday, 17th March 2009

Demographics, Career Concerns or Social Comparison: Who Games SSRN Download Counts?

Demographics, Career Concerns or Social Comparison: Who Games SSRN Download Counts? (PDF; 645 KB)

We use a unique database of every SSRN paper download over the course of seven years, along with detailed resume data on a random sample of SSRN authors, to examine the role of demographic factors, career concerns, and social comparisons on the commission of a particular type of gaming: the self-downloading of an author's own SSRN working paper solely to inflate the paper's reported download count. We find significant evidence that authors are more likely to inflate their papers' download counts when a higher count greatly improves the visibility of a paper on the SSRN network. We also find limited evidence of gaming due to demographic factors and career concerns, and strong evidence of gaming driven by social comparisons with various peer groups. These results indicate the importance of including psychological factors in the study of deceptive behavior.

Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers


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