Competition in Comparison: It’s not a choice, it’s a given.

Throughout my life I have always found competition to be its own large concept almost all by itself. I have always regarded competition quite fondly and appreciate the effects a competitive environment has on me as a person but until reading this article I didn’t realize that it wasn’t competition that I like and thrive under, its the specific form of comparison based competition. Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor and Tyrone M. Schiff’s review paper, “The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” gives great insight into the different kinds of comparison based completion and the different ways to interpret it. Through their review of other phycologists work on the issue as we’ll as numerous studies these three give a great and compressive understand of what is at play in different group and individual comparisons. Through reading this review it became clear that even for those who actively try and avoid competition, it is inevitable. As stated in the first paragraph of the article, “Indeed, people commonly seek to achieve a superior position”.

The Authors use primary the same formula when making a claim throughout the entire piece. Most of the claims brought forward are statements made by other phycologists with a little bit of a new idea added onto it. This claim is then backed up by a study conducted in that same field. This is very compelling evidence and based on the sources of the claim and the evidence, very credible. They then use this study not only as their data but also as a way to rationalize and give a real world, more concrete example to the audience. It was through one of these claims that I realized just how engrained comparisons and competitions based on those comparisons are in the human psyche. Seeing as humans are inherently self interested in keep themselves alive and putting themselves in the best position possible it is inevitable that a person will generate, “competitive behaviour to protect one’s superiority”. It is natural to defend ones self and as the article states, whenever a person is engaging with someone else, there is a defence mechanism at play. The example of the upward and downward comparison perfectly demonstrates how it is a given to compete when compared. A person will feel the need to compete with someone who is better in order to, “Achieve superior position” but that same person will also feel the need to compete with somebody worse as they fear that other person will, “threaten a potential upward comparison”. The article continues and reaches its conclusion by furthering this idea that comparison completion is inherent to human behaviour by listen and backing up with examples, all the different places in which this kind of completion can be seen. The article claims then backs up with examples, 11 completely different social setting where this can be seen. The most compelling form of evidence that corroborates the inevitability of this form of competition is not the well supported and proper claims, it’s the fact that most of these claims are true for not just people and groups who are different but also for groups and people that are almost the same. The authors discuss how similarity and closeness in relation often leads to increased competition between the two compared to strangers; however, their analysis of social category fault lines completely reverses the logic put forward when analyzing similarities. The argument for similarities and closeness in relationship argues that because the two are very similar and connected there is a greater need in order to determine who is superior and therefor, competition is increased. On the contrary, this idea is flipped on its head when the scope of the relationship is widened. The agreement states that when two states who are geographically close together, they compete at a state level very competitively but when the scope is widen and these two states are compared to another country, they tend to join forces as they are competing in order to achieve superior position in their shared, similar values. Whats makes this so compelling is that even though this two agreements contradict each other, they are both fundamentally true and practiced daily. It shows that no matter the circumstance there is always a need to compete with those who are being compared to you.

Although I agree with shawnpak is stating this article was extremely eye opening, I do not agree with his statement that he believes, “Negative forms of comparison to be a necessary evil in our current society”. I believe they are necessary but I do not agree with that fact that the negative ones are evil. These negative competitions may not be friendly but for the vast majority they bring out the best in each other and help both parties grow. Of course there are examples of extreme competition leading to bad deeps; however, at its truest form this competition leads to bettering as both sides as they are only striving to become superior and through that they are bettering themselves. I also do not agree with this statement as the article proves how a negative completion between two people are groups very quickly becomes one of positivity and support once the scope widens. The practice of competing along side those who are being compared to you is not a necessary evil or necessary benefit, it is merely an inevitable product of the human spirit and psyche.


Image: Vegetarians Vs. Vegans. Https://

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s