What drives us to be more competitive?

 In the article, “The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” written by Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor, and Tyrone M. Schiff, the authors look into the psychology of competition from a social comparison perspective which is “the tendency to self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others” and “an important source of competitive behavior”. As illustrated in the first figure below, they argue that two basic sets of factors, situational factors and individual factors, generate comparison concerns (“the desire to achieve a superior relative position”) thus leading to increasing competitiveness. Then, they further define and explain each factor and how they result in competitiveness (shown in the second figure). I think knowing how those factors affect our comparison concerns, and consequently our competitive behavior is important for all of us in order to understand what drives us to be more competitive. 

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As mentioned in the very beginning of the article, “competitions are ubiquitous”. They are everywhere. I, myself, also encounter competition every day: in my school, in my sports team, in my family, etc.  Even though I have always had a vague idea that competitiveness stems from the desire to outperform other people, I have not paid much attention to what kind of factors actually increase social comparison concerns. Reading the different type of factors, I could actually apply those into my own experience regarding competition and understand why that made me act in a more competitive way. For example, the authors talk about similarity as one of the individual factors of competitiveness and explain that “people tend to compare themselves with others who are most similar to them”. This was true for me in my volleyball varsity team back in high school. I behaved in a more competitive manner towards a teammate who had the same role (libero), same height, and same speciality (serving) because I had to outperform her in order to play as a major player in the game and the similarity between me and her made the comparison to have the biggest impact on competitiveness. Another example is the situational factor added by the authors which is called audience that says that the presence of audience increases social comparison and thus competitiveness. This was also true in my volleyball games in high school. Whenever there were more people watching the game, my teammates played more competitively because there were more people to witness who was better and who wasn’t. Thus, understating the factors of competitiveness made me realize what drove me to be more competitive.

It is also interesting to see how this article’s basic form of argument is divided into three parts (points to a problem, describes weakness, and proposes a solution) like the readings we have done before. This article points to a problem that how social comparison was not paid much attention in the field of psychology and how its relation to competitive behavior was not studied enough. Then it describes the weakness that focusing only on individual factors is not specific enough and makes it harder to predict the increase in competitiveness. Then it proposes a new social comparison model of competition that distinguishes between individual factors and situational factors that increase social comparison and thus competitive attitudes and behavior. This form of argument was also seen in Hutcheon’s reading. She points to the problem of how the current academic community has become a place of combat where the participants try to demolish each other’s argument in a violent manner. Then she describes the weakness by pointing at how destructive disputation limits the generation of knowledge. Then she offers a solution that we should practice critical thinking in a creative and integrative way. This psychology article once again reinforced that this type of form of argument is strong and persuasive.

In ryuo100’s reading response, ryuo100 disagrees with the author’s claim that closer relationship increases the competitiveness by giving an example of ryuo100’s experience in IB school where ryuo100 and his/her friend helped each other out. But I think it is also important to recognize that competitiveness does not only result from one factor. As you can see from the second figure, there are different types of individual factors and situational factors that influence the actor. So the close relationship between ryuo100 and his/her friend could have not resulted in increased competitiveness, for example, because of personality difference (individual difference). 


image from https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiIsfaos_vdAhU6HTQIHUORAnkQjhx6BAgBEAM&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.womanthology.co.uk%2Fimperfectly-perfect-nimita-shah-career-psychologist-social-comparison-theory%2F&psig=AOvVaw3UF9XxmGusIW5OMYuuquxy&ust=1539244547362223


#psychology #P03 #ASTU101 #social comparison #comparison concern #competition #Garcia

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