Ranking and competition.

Stephen M. Garcia currently an associate professor of psychology and of organizational studies at the University of Michigan writes an article “The psychology of competition: a social comparison perspective” in this article he introduces a model that distinguishes “between individual and situational factors that increase social comparison […] and leads to a range of competitive attitudes and behavior.

This model consecutively outlines examples of how ranking and the number of competitors changes the competitive behavior of the individual. Garcia states that the lower the number of individuals competing the higher the competition becomes. This is due to the competitors being able to compare themselves to each other and therefore want to one-up their competition as they can closely relate to them.

He also states that ranking plays a role in the competitiveness of individuals and firms. He states that those ranked in the middle are less likely to compete with each other in comparison to those either ranked at the top or at the bottom. This can be seen in many circumstances politically through elections and educationally through university rankings. This was of particular interest to me as one would not believe that those at the bottom would have the same or similar competitive behavior to those ranked on top though thinking about it closely one can see why that would be true. Though they may be at the bottom end of the ranking nobody wants to be the last one. Nobody wants to be ranked the lowest, therefore, a competition is formed to be anything but the lowest ranked as this gives the university or political leader a bad image. This can be said about the pricing of goods as well $10 sounds way more expensive psychologically than $9.99 making people more inclined to buy the ‘cheaper’ option though there may not be a difference.

His model shows us that by creating a ranking or by creating a comparison between two things you automatically create competition through rivalry as the competitors will want to one-up each other in the competition to achieve the highest ranking.


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