Competition: A nuance of ambiguities

Competition is second nature for me and much of the individuals pursuing outstanding performance; I have met the anxiety of the game, which I have come to view as essential in the dynamics of human interactions.  I see competition as a natural instinct beyond ambitions and comparison, rather, it is a process that enables a profound feeling of both pride and humility.   Friendly competition and vicious competition are distinctly different from one another, and their emotional impact would also greatly differ from one another.  The psychological mechanisms explained in Stephen M. Garcia’s paper drew a connection towards the middle ground of competition than the ones of Bateson and Hutcheon, where they vehemently discouraged competition.  

His paper, “The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” applied a social comparison of competition to situational and individual factors, encompassing a great range of case-by-case studies, where psychological factors that influence the extent of competition was identified.  According to Garcia, proximity, similarity, and interest are variables that affect the way we approach competition.  In other words, we display a stronger sense of competition when we face circumstances that involve our personal incentives, strengths, and close relationships.

As much as I admire Garcia’s analysis, I disagree with his approach of using the similar logic to reason the psychological causes of competition.

I caution against making assumptions for cultures, individual relationships, and professions through a social comparison model because it would undermine the degree of accuracy.  Delving into Garcia’s paper, I did not expect find answers for the psychology behind competition with the idea that competition itself is ambiguous in its approach and purpose.  It is both a zero-sum game and a sport that recognizes exceptional achievements.  It could be pursued intentionally and subconsciously because there is a purpose to everything.  An encounter with competition could also be pursued differently by individuals.  Competition, at is core, is specific to individuals instead of categories or groups, because communities thrive with the input of individual traits, and competition would allow the gathering the distinct individual in order to fulfill the most ideal outcome: cooperation.  In response to @ryuo100’s opinion that friends are not always competition because of cooperation, I want to provide an additional piece of thought: competition has always maintained its presence, but there are varying degrees.  I see a possibility of cooperation and competition working hand-in-hand.  One of Garcia’s claims was the overlap of the social comparison model, being that the way competition functions psychologically could be a potential reasoning for its enforcement in our daily life.

To conclude, I recognize the versatility in Garcia’s social comparison model, because at the very basis, it provides an explanation for the psychological mechanisms of competition.   Garcia does address the limitations of his claim with the possibility that it is dependent on the individual character and approach of competition.  The presentation of both individual and situational factors drew a connection with the middle ground, as the information was presented in a largely indifferent and cohesive manner.


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