Garcia, Tor and Schiff (2013) conduct a literature review on the role of social comparison in competition. The authors point out that past research of competition heavily focused on fields like sociology, political science, or business. Therefore, authors in the current study hopes to extend previous knowledge of competition by examining evidence from the psychological perspective, more specifically, from a social comparison point of view.
Garcia et al. propose a social comparison model of competition which shows that individual and situational factors predict the degree of comparison concerns; as a result, the comparison concern poses as a meditative factor to competitive behavior. The authors in the current study have a nice touch on the psychological factors which distinguishes the social comparison theory from other perspectives. Previous studies largely focus on situational factors. For example, Hutcheon (2003) identified the incentive structure, one of the situational factors in the social comparison model, as the engine of the competitive and adversarial culture fostered in the academic settings. As Hutcheon put it, the corporate capitalist model of competition rewards individual accomplishment which builds on minimizing others’ benefits. In Bateson’s article, the author explored how the macrosystem (e.g. the individualistic society and cultural belief) shapes one’s competitive behavior (2016). Molina et al. (2017) also emphasized the influence of the familial environment (eg. kin selection) and surrounding environments (eg. human community) on cooperation and competition.
By comparison, Garcia et al.’s social comparison model stresses that the incentive structure which works alongside with other situational variables could interplay with some personal factors, and therefore indirectly promotes one’s desire to optimize their performance and increase or decrease the differences between themselves and their competitors. In addition, authors addressed the individual differences under the same environmental influence. For example, people compete based on the relevance of a task to themselves. I can imagine if a western parent views attachment as the top priority to his or her child’s development, this parent may not be keen on the child’s independence training although he or she is living in an extremely individualistic society. More interestingly, Garcia et al. provides a new perspective on the relational variables. Molina et al.’s kin selection suggests that people become more altruistic if the donor and the recipient of a favour are closely related. However, the social comparison model indicates that people are more reluctant to provide helps to their friends than to strangers during competitive missions which are relevant to themselves.
Moreover, I personally appreciate the way how Garcia et al. deliver their messages. They did not pick a side between competition and corporation. Instead, they simply present the possible explanations of competitive behaviors from the psychological perspective and leave the audience to decide how they are going to utilize their information. Many researchers like Molina et al. have realized that cooperation and competition coexist in almost every societies. Also, as our classmate vinitinandwani3427 said in his/her reading response, “in order to survive, we do need to cooperate and work together, or there will never be peace. But competition is what drives us”. In my opinion, social comparison drives us neither in a positive nor negative direction, but rather upward or downward depends on how we perceive the task, the target or the situation.
Bateson, Mary Catherine. “The Myths of Independence and Competition.” Systems Research and Behavioral Science, vol. 33, no. 5, 2016, pp. 674–677., doi:10.1002/sres.2424.
Garcia, Stephen M., et al. “The Psychology of Competition.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 8, no. 6, 2013, pp. 634–650., doi:10.1177/1745691613504114.
Hutcheon, L. “RHETORIC AND COMPETITION: Academic Agonistics.” Common Knowledge, vol. 9, no. 1, 2003, pp. 42–49., doi:10.1215/0961754x-9-1-42.
Molina, J.l., et al. “Cooperation and Competition in Social Anthropology.” Anthropology Today, vol. 33, no. 1, 2017, pp. 11–14., doi:10.1111/1467-8322.12323.
Link to vinitinandwani3427 ‘s reading response: https://mschandorf.ca/2019/01/23/rhetoric-and-competition-by-linda-hutcheon/