Motivating underdogs and favorites

Robert B. Lount, Nathan C. Pettit, Sarah P. Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A core question for managers and leaders is how to motivate individuals in intergroup competitions. We examine how an individual's effort is affected by whether one's group is considered the underdog or the favorite and the content of the motivational appeal they receive. Specifically, we first propose and test whether underdogs and favorites enter intergroup competitions with different motivational orientations (Study 1). We then demonstrate that motivational appeals that match these orientations lead to greater effort than appeals which do not (Studies 2–4), with goal commitment mediating this effect (Study 5). Finally, we present a meta-analytic integration of the findings, along with a discussion of the theoretical and managerial implications for individual effort in intergroup competitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Favorites
  • Intergroup competition
  • Motivation
  • Regulatory fit
  • Underdogs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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