Addressing the absence of social comparison research and competition

Garcia (University of Michigan psychology professor), Tor (Notre Dame law professor), and Schiff (affiliated with UM) aim to define a model for social comparison in relation to competition that is foundational for future research. Their review article, published in the Association for Psychological Science, fulfills the organization’s objectives of advancing psychological science through the synthesis of related research. Because the purpose of the article was to create a foundation for future research, Garcia et al. produce a similar outcome as Werron who sought to formally define competition for future research. Through this compilation and analysis, Garcia et al. successfully address the disconnection between social comparison and competition, arguing that social comparison is a natural function of competition. The cross-disciplinary interaction is clearly visible between the authors as they encourage others to do the same by suggesting relevant points of interest in each discipline in relation to social comparison. Therefore, the discourse community is not limited to those who study social psychology but is relevant to any subject matter dealing with social comparison and competition.

The discourse community is quite broad as Garcia et al. assume that competition and social comparison are interconnected; and therefore, the model defined in the paper is applicable to a multitude of disciplines and serves as a foundation to further inquiry and research. Competition here is defined through social comparison theory and the behaviour and attitude indicators displayed in those engaging in competition. If one were to look at the differences between Garcia et al. and Werron’s papers, it is evident that Garcia et al. focusses on competition in the realm of social psychology, whereas Werron defines competition to be used in situations outside of social psychology and does not explicitly state whether the phenomenon of social comparison is prevalent in each situation. Despite analyzing from slightly different perspectives, these two concepts are able to work together because Werron defines competition as a social form, and from a social psychological perspective, the social comparison phenomenon would naturally arise in such environments. The fact that these two “foundational” concepts are able to work together and improve each other’s arguments suggest the potential for others to also build upon their ideas.

As mentioned by melaniechen9985, the social comparison theory is vastly present in ordinary life; however, there has been a severe lack of inter-disciplinary research in social comparison in relation to competition and other areas. In order to ameliorate the gap in knowledge, Garcia et al. carefully define a model of social comparison that can be used for future research among any discipline. Garcia et al. view social comparison as a source for competition and can be broken up into distinct categories which each affect the intensity of competitive behaviour.  Clear boundaries are drawn between situational factors and individual factors and are well-defined and established. For example, Garcia et al. address the initial miscategorization of Social Category fault lines as a relational and individual factor. Social Category fault lines are not relational according to the authors because each individual belongs to different categories which they will identify with depending on the situation; therefore, this factor is situational in nature. By clearly defining each factor, Garcia et al. successfully accomplish their goal to provide missing information between social comparison and competition.

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