“The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” by Garcia et. al. is an intricate analysis of the factors that induce social comparison. Individual factors include a comparison of individual differences, similarities, closeness to the target, and relevance of performance which can vary from person to person. Situational factors are described as incentive structures, number of competitors, proximity to a standard, social category fault lines, uncertainty, and audience. These social comparison concerns are shown to help pave new paths and directions for future psychological studies, as well as relating disciplines.
This effort to open horizons for further research is similar to Werron’s development of the sociological and empirical research on competition, and his argument for the need to study modern competition in societal fields. Werron also emphasizes that competition is a taken-for-granted part of modern world view and we often forget that our motives are caused by competition. This ties well with Garcia et. al.’s idea of self comparison as it brought my attention to the reasons we compare ourselves to others in ways I had never consciously realized myself.
The “N effect” is one of the situational factors I found most interesting and perhaps feel the most connected to. The inverse relationship shown when the number of competitors decrease and the intensity of competitive behaviour increases is prevalent within my day to day experience within my sport. For example, when running a beep test to reach our V02 max, I feel more motivated to continue running when majority of people have dropped out before me. By comparing your success to those who drop out in the beep test, I feel a sense of relief. Though, while running I find the opposite effect. The situational factor of number of competitors drives an individual factor of comparing yourself with the remaining few who share a similar ranking of cardiovascular ability.
I agree with @paulkur on the opinion that “[t]his article is also left open ended giving the reader a chance to have their own take on the idea of competition”, because even though we are made aware of these factors for self-comparison, Garcia et. al. gives no opinion of whether it is right or wrong.