How competition makes us?-The Psychology of Competition

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The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective, which was completed by Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor, and Tyrone M. Schiff, discusses the individual factors and situational factors. that lead to comparison concerns from the psychological point of view. The author’s subtitles and illustrations provide readers with a better understanding of the narrative steps and the content of the article (the inclusion and causality of the elements). In the second part of the paper, the theoretical analysis of the first half is applied to different aspects, and their views are proved again to some extent.

When it comes to psychology, I always think the connection between it and competition is vanity—an emotional need, or a quest for higher status or level. I’m surprised that psychology is so amazing that many of the author’s ideas fit in with my psychological activities. People’s psychological activities are so complex that different branches of thought may be based on a single thought so that I feel that some views can be analyzed in different situations. In the following sections, I will comment on some of the author’s views.

When there is more competition, the pressure may be greater

I have doubts about the idea that there are fewer competitors and more competition. Although the authors say that the possibility that the increased competitiveness observed is caused by the higher expected payoffs with decreased the number of competitors adds legitimacy to his point of view, it is true from this point of view. But I think it still needs to be judged from a different perspective. In some cases, the increase in the number of competitors will make the competition more fierce. One of the simplest examples, At a company interview, only a few jobs, as the number of candidates will increase the pressure of competition, this is when all candidates as a whole, this is the conclusion. However, when the main body is regarded as the best candidate, the situation has changed. Other job seekers flocking to the job market pose no threat to the best, but by the time the screening reaches the second half, the incompetent have been eliminated. At this point, similar people are left behind, and as the numbers continue to fall, the competitive pressure on job seekers increases. While this may be at odds with “higher expected payoffs” theory, it is another example of how fewer competitors compete more intensely. What I want to say is that the relationship between the number of competitors and the competition changes with the change of subject and time.

Why don’t people in the middle of the rankings tend to compete

The authors propose competitiveness was stronger between highly ranked or bottom ranking than between intermediately ranked ones. I quite agree with them. But what led to such an outcome? Maybe I can use my high school experience to explain it. Teachers often stress to us: good students must keep high marks, poor students should work hard to improve. Students in the middle of the rankings are often overlooked by teachers. I personally think it’s because the comfort zone is a task on their agenda for the highly demanding students, and for the less successful students, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The only thing they can do is working hard, and the point they compete for is trying to get out of the bad range. The area between the two becomes a comfort zone for middle-grade students. This comfort zone brings further inertia and leaping into the ranks of excellent students often requires an effort from quantitative to qualitative change, which is too difficult, and there are people who are worse than them, so the competition between them is often less intense.

Are we going to leave when we’re defeated and another possible factor for increasing competition

There is a very interesting example in this article that people choose to stay away from their friends or not to be interested in the game after they have failed to play chess many times. This example is practical at some point, but it is too extreme. Its personal view is that people go to competition only to win. Personally, this psychological activity seems to apply only to me as a child. In many cases where I have to compete, I know I can’t be the best and most likely to mess up everything, but at this moment I still have to do my best to prepare, because, in this kind of psychological construction, my goal is not to win but in the whole process of refining myself. On the other hand, a-good counterexample louisqxyang points out “The United States of America and China, despite being obvious rivals in the political world often cooperate with each other on an economic and diplomatic level, creating trade agreements between the two countries and often working towards the same goal in United Nations conferences”. Obviously, in the larger field of competition, this slightly childish mental activity does not apply.

At the same time, I also think of an example, a person teaches beginners to play mahjong, In the process of playing mahjong, beginners as long as they see someone win will clap their hands, feel that others play excellent skills, but teachers see others win will be angry. This seems to lead to the idea that when a person is proficient in a field, he is more competitive than others. Because the previous sense of achievement will give him psychological hint of victory, and when he does not win, anger will occupy his brain. In reality, such people tend to demand more competition to prove their strength.

The significance of Psychological Research on Competition

Why people compete, and how to promote other fields through psychological research on competition, I think this article gives a detailed and persuasive view. On a personal level, being rational in competition is often challenging, as many of them tend to be negative or extreme. At the same time, the author gives the psychological reasons of competition and, to some extent, tells the reader that the negative distractions can be avoided through the understanding of these psychological activities so that a better competitive environment can be created.




Image Sources:

Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor, and Tyrone M. Schiff: The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective

louisqxyang: Comparison and Competition: From E-sports to the Seven Years War (

1 Comment

  1. Hey! Good structure in your reading response, I’ve just been thinking one thing: while I agree that students in the middle of the grading scale are intimidated by higher grade efforts and calmed by students with lesser grades, I also think that students at the bottom and the top have incentives that the middle does not have. Top students for example have the chance to become valedictorian or win scholarships, while bottom students have to struggle not to fail a class or do keep their GPA high enough to get into university at all. Middle students will probably not fail a class and will probably get into university, albeit maybe without a scholarship. Or would this line of argument be too goal oriented instead of working along the line of the process of social comparison? What do you think?


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