Is Overlap a sign of interdependent research?

Garcia’s research article centers around social comparison as the sole reason for competitive spirit.  The research article is divided into three sections, first consisting of an introduction to the model proposed, then a detailed description of each, and how it can be expanded on in the future. The self evaluation process for example is just one of many jargon used to reinforce the idea that we do compare ourselves continuously and thus have a longing to always out-perform and achieve a higher status compared to others. Garcia quotes Festinger to go as far as to say it protects one’s superiority. This makes sense and can be valid even in other academic discourses as striving and pushing yourself to do better will eventually pay off.

Garcia was the only study thus far to identify and objectively attempt to quantify factors that cause social comparison and hence competition using N and expected values. The whole article leads up to state that this research could very well be used in other avenues as reinforced by the open conclusion that Garcia ends welcoming other academia to use her research to expand and develop on. I believe that there is significant overlap between the content summarized here and other academic discourse genres. Due to the high credibility and reliability of this research, it is easy to see that with just further research and circulation of this knowledge it could lead to other academia genres such as political science and economics to built up into a bigger body of knowledge that could ultimately lead to an interdependence of research with academia co-operating together to understand and reach solutions that can be said to be true of some if not all fields of competition.

Having been exposed to Psychology previously in my A’Levels it was easy to identify that Garcia had used Tajfel and Turner’s study in 1979 (Turner, J. C., et al. “Social Comparison and Group Interest in Ingroup Favouritism.” European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 9, no. 2, 1979, pp. 187–204.) to support most of his rhetorical moves in the study. One example of this is when Garcia uses incentive structures to articulate how zero-sum situations (which is also touched upon in Werron) allow participants to realize the scarcity in the situation which causes increases competitors the motivation to out-do a competitor. This situation is also known as Realistic Conflict Theory, which argues that there must be some scarcity of resources for competition to occur. This is in comparison with the Social Identity Theory that Tajfel and Turner coined to explain how randomly assigned groups of participants with no relevant individual factors affecting the dependent variable still resulted in competition. Hence without a perception of scarcity, competition was still prevalent. It is obvious therefore that Social comparison hence ties in very closely to Garcia’s research. Garcia uses the last phase “social comparison” of Tajfel and Turner’s study; to explain the concept of comparing yourself to the out-group with the objective of increasing your self-esteem thus creating in-group favoritism and out-group hostility.

Garcia uses her article to expand on Tajfel’s discovery while also opening up her article to academia. She develops her article by building up a progressive model linking individual to situational factors and identifying how they are inter-connected and one could cause the other even indirectly. Individual factors consisted of three characteristics; a performance dimension, degree of similarity and closeness to the target. Considered individualistic in nature, each factor may vary for every person. Situational factors on the other hand; such as the number of competitors where a larger number of rivals cause increased motivation to work harder and out-perform the rest is very similar to business strategies used to analyse competition and survive in the market. In business, Porter’s Five Forces model identifies how the bargaining power of buyers and suppliers, the threat of new entrants and rivalry examine how competitive the market is. Increased rivals equate to more substitutes available for a product and higher elasticity of demand for a consumer- this analysis would make any business strive to be better than its rival. Even in Politics perceived similarity in other political rivals could create social comparison, as we seek to make ourselves feel superior in order to win approval of the people. Hence I believe that it can be easily seen how even aspects of psychology can be fluidly used to explain why businesses and political systems are competitive in nature.

In comparison to previous articles on competition, the entire discourse Garcia is trying to make is different. Though he writes to an intended discourse community of the academia in psychology, it is obvious that he is still desires that other academia can use this knowledge to build up a generalisable form of data.  Unlike Bateson, Werron or Hutcheon, Garcia makes note of the limitations of the research they drew on, noting how some dimensions could be pre-conditions for competitiveness (dimension relevance might prove a necessary precondition for competitiveness) and also how situational factors may influence individual factors and vice versa. Another important consideration is how Garcia indicated how individual factors can easily change with time.

In conclusion, it is easy to see how social comparison is valid across almost every field. In my perspective, this specific approach towards understanding competition should be absorbed into other research so that a body of knowledge can be created and Dignified Rants with Vaish also supports the conclusion that such interdependencies have been taken into consideration. The overlap that is identified proves that such interdependence of research and more communication as a large discourse community could very well open up larger doors for academia in the future.



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