Compete with best friends, and cooperate with strangers? – Reading Response to “The Psychology Of Competition-Perspectives On Psychological Science”


In this paper, the authors identified the following two factors that affect social competition – individual and situational, then explored further in detail the each of the factors and how they interact with each other and the effects of it. Then they also briefly discussed how they might apply in different areas of the real world.


Out of the many things that we have read in the course so far, this research paper was the most intriguing for me by far, because I could identify with many of the factors that affect our competitiveness, and it was truly eye-opening at times reading it. Such factors such as the similarity between the competitors or proximity to a standard were never the things that I associated with causes of competition before reading this paper, but once they were explained they made very good senses.


The organization of this paper was overall very clearly structured and well laid out and it was easy to follow compared to some of our past readings such as Ingraham’s Competition or Exhibition, where to me it felt like that his arguments and points were difficult to follow at times. In contrast to Ingraham’s work, the headings served a very different role in this paper, making the objectives of each small sections of the paper extremely clear-cut and obvious to the audience.


However, as much as I personally enjoyed reading this paper I beg to disagree with the claim of the authors that the closeness of the relationship between the actors amplifies the competitiveness of the competition between them. The evidence that the authors give for this claim, under the subheading “relationship closeness”, were very weak compared to the other factors, where the authors often described an experiment by which those factors were found or explained the theories in detail to explain how psychologists developed them. As opposed to that, for the relationship closeness argument, the authors simply cited some sources with way too little elaborations of them for such a bold and a counter-intuitive claim, which that they acknowledged themselves, as “intuition suggests that people promote friends over strangers; yet research has shown that this is not necessarily true on relevant comparison dimensions”. I say this because while I understand the reasoning behind this theory, but I have seen too many instances in my life when this did not apply, and I hoped that it had followed a similar claim structure to the one that we learned in class with data, warrant, backing, and qualifier so that I could comprehend the claim fully and agree with it.

For example, with my friends in high school, I never felt that it was a competition. We shared notes and held casual study sessions to help each other in IB. Perhaps the fact that we had a very small class helped us to bond closer and thus to choose cooperation over competition, but this seems to contradict the theory that Garcia presents in the paper, that closer the relationship between the competitors, the more the competition intensifies. I feel that the point should have been developed further to explain the instances where it might not apply and when it would.

On this theory, mmravi argued in their post that this theory is supported by the existence of competition within a family. I agree with mmravi because personally I have felt at times expected by people around me to exceed my parents. Partly this was probably due to the natural expectancy of returns from the huge investments they have put on their children, but also I feel that there was some cultural aspect to it, of me being their first male son and thus being expected to strive to come on par with the achievements of my parents and surpass them, such as being able to speak better English or attending a better university, etc. In that sense, I agree with mmravi. The link to their post is 

Overall, this paper by Garcia and their contributors provided valuable insights on competition from psychologists’ perspective. The information was organized carefully to convey them well to the audience which they succeeded.


#Psychology #competition #Garcia #


  1. I agree with you in saying that simply because you are close with someone that it doesn’t mean competition intensifies, and that there is some contradiction present in the paper. You mentioned working in small study groups and how there is no competition, that is a good example but personally I believe it’s completely situational and that there are a lot of variables. It mainly depends on the individuals involved and the mindsets they have. I am a competitive person and will compete with those I am studying with no matter how casual a situation and those around me often have the same mindset. While with other friends who I am equally close with there is no competition. The type of work being done also plays a big role. Overall I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this article and felt that you made a strong claim to your idea that simply because we are close to someone that doesn’t mean that the competition has to increase. From my personal perspective, I agree with you that there isn’t this everpresent direct relation, but I believe that it varies from person to person. For example, my friends and I always wanted to one-up each other in high school in the sense of friendly competition. However that wasn’t the case with you, so I think that is close to someone doesn’t necessarily increase competition between them but in certain people, it might trigger a friendly sense of competition.


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