Social Comparison and its Effects on Competition

Garcia et al. bring to light the idea of self-evaluation and how we use it to compare ourselves to other people. This tendency to frequently compare ourselves to other people is a prominent cause of competitive behaviour within a society. Through a number of different types of psychology such as personality, educational and consumer psychology, Garcia et al. conclude that situational factors can be distinguished from dispositional factors within the social comparison model of competition. While situational factors seem to indirectly affect competition, individual factors “directly shape comparison concerns”, which in turn, affect competition. Although they can be distinguished, it does not mean they are always separate and can also interact within a self-evaluation.

There was something that was mentioned in this paper that I did not entirely agree with. While comparing the effect of disposition versus situation, an example was used to demonstrate this explanation. In short, if a golfer that is highly ranked, starts to fall down the ranks this may cause golf to be “less relevant” to him. This idea of relevancy seems to be key in distinguishing this difference in factors, however I do not believe this should be so heavily considered. How does a highly ranked golfer who falls down the ranks start to perceive golf and his connection to it as less relevant to him? I am placing a lot of emphasis on this part of the paper because the idea of relevancy seems to be a large contributing factor in this. This links to the larger topic of ‘relevance dimension’: people will be more competitive on dimensions that are more “relevant or important to the self”. Linking back to what I previously said, this happens as on option within self-evaluation before comparison. A previous example stated that if one were to play chess with a friend and lose, either chess would become less-relevant to them, or they would become less close to their friend. According to the paper, either one of these two has to happen or it will get too competitive. More can be explained about this, but I disagree with it as a whole. My own experience has taught me quite the opposite, and in winning or losing with friends I have only become more competitive with them.

However I did agree with Garcia et al’s discussion of three variables that affect this social comparison model, one of them being interpersonal relationships. For me, this is something I strongly agree with as it exacerbates competitive behaviour. Although I rarely wanted my brothers to see that I was being competitive, even though I felt the need to compare themselves to me; much more so than friends or other people.

Aside from all this, I also want to add how much I agree with Kate’s application of this paper on the arguments presented by Hutcheon. She mentions how academics are so “ingrained” in students’ identities and how this promotes competition between them. A self-evaluation comparison to others is perhaps because of how relevant they feel school needs to be and so competition between them is ever more prevalent in this academia.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Mason,

    I liked how you disagreed with parts of the paper because it shows you have developed your thoughts well. I am curious though about your counter argument (real-life example) against the relevance dimension. While I see that the paper has generalized this concept, I still agree with the effects of relevancy on competitive behaviour.

    I do think that there exists some form of correlation between the results of competition and an individual’s behaviour in dimensional relevance. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that from a social psychology perspective, it is assumed that there is some sort of social interaction occurring between the two competitors and that these interactions influence and shape decisions. These decisions, therefore, affect the dimension (relationship with the competitor or interest in the subject matter) which manifests itself through relevancy.

    Perhaps the reason why you disagree with the paper is due to the underlying assumptions of this discipline.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s