Reading Response: The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective

The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective article by Garcia et al provides some insight into the psychology of social comparison. They evaluate the relationship within/between groups of individuals, or “actors”, focusing on “the role of individual and situational factors that increase social comparison concerns and thus competitiveness.” They then determine how this comparison influences the performances of said individuals. This article was published by the Association for Psychological Science and thus we can expect that it was mainly directed towards psychologists and scholars in that area. There were also sections of the article that referred to political, economic, and educational fields, which expanded the audience to other disciplines. Furthermore, the data being presented branched from experiments that were conducted by other psychologists, making this a peer-reviewed article.

The article explores multiple factors such as the number of actors, the social closeness of the actors, and the actors’ audience. The two categories, however, are individual and situational factors, which are distinguished using the model proposed in this article. Individualized factors include dimension relevance, similarity, and closeness between the actor and target competitor. Through research, we see that these factors show how individuals compete against other individuals, particularly when they have more in common with each other. This relates to Bateson’s journal article on living cyber systematically and the issue with independence; individualism does not lead to cooperation and it can make individuals increasingly competitive. On the other hand, though, situational factors that are more group-based also exhibit high comparison/competition levels.

Overall, this article was very interesting to read and helped me get insight into all the hidden comparison and competition that occurs in our society (and the ones that aren’t hidden). I found myself reflecting on situations I had personally been in, and how the individual and situational factors played a role in my experiences.

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