Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Using a new, objective measure, we study the role of fear of failure in performance and find that it is positively linked with the latter, a finding that tends to contradict the conventional wisdom in both psychology and behavioral economics. We use individual data from the nationally syndicated television show MasterChef for the years 2010 to 2020 and exploit situations in which contestants are on the verge of being dropped from competition. Using ordinary least squares, we show that extreme fear of failure is associated with an increase of two to four positions in the final placement of the competition.