Reading Garcia et al. (2013) as an objective view of competition and Hutcheon (2003) as a subjective one

Unlike many of the readings we have focused on thus far, the article by Garcia et al. (2013), “The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” refrains from taking a stance for or against the concept of competition. Instead, a goal of the article is to outline a mechanism for the facilitation of social comparison and therefore, indirectly, competition. In the article, Garcia et al. pull from various psychological studies to determine a model of social comparison which takes into account both individual and situational factors which increase social comparison. Individual factors are described as similarity to competitors, relationship to competitors, and various other dimensions. Situational factors include factors such as the number of competitors, proximity to a standard, and incentive structures. Garcia et al. end the paper by explaining how individual and situational factors affect one another and try to reach other discourse communities by making their research relevant to other fields such as political science and education. As a side note, we also see Bateson attempt to integrate different disciplines and invite them into the conversation and can conclude that this is a useful rhetorical move.

The authors: Garcia, Tor, and Schiff, never position themselves in favor of or against competition and use empirical research in the field of psychology to build a case as to how competition functions. They build a strong argument but do not include opinions or personal statements. This type of argument structure is seen in most psychological papers and is typical for this discourse community. Personal opinions and anecdotes have little place in the empirical world of psychology. On the other hand, Hutcheon relies mostly on personal narrative and experiences to guide her arguments. In the discipline that Linda Hutcheon resides in, this type of communication is acceptable and welcome within the discourse community of English and literature.

In “Rhetoric and competition”, Hutcheon (2003) takes a personal and strong stance against competition, especially in the setting of academia. As salimsalimoff7648 states in their response “[Hutcheon] clearly shares her own personal bias and tendency by talking about her personal aversion to competition…Hutcheon appears to take a side in the competition debate and encourages a departure from competition to cooperation”. To her audience, Hutcheon’s personal experiences and strong opinions that academia must change its competitive ways, works. Unfortunately, for the audience that Garcia et al. are speaking to, this would not. Both Garcia et al. and Hutcheon know their audience and understand the communication styles of their discipline and write their arguments accordingly.

Since Garcia et al. are not talking about the effects of competition, like Hutcheon is, and instead are focusing on factors that can affect competition, their opinions about competition do not have a place in this article. They have effectively combined current knowledge about competition in psychology and set it out for their readers, allowing their readers to develop their own opinions about competition. This goes to show that, as we have discussed in class, an author needs to know their audience in order to know the most effective way to address them and the best way to present their arguments to them. There is no one correct form for an argument, it depends on the audience. Both Garcia et al. and Hutcheon manage to use this to their advantage to convey their ideas.

6 Comments

  1. Hey, good reading response ! I agree with you ! Hutcheon as well as Garcia et al. effectively convey their ideas to their specific audience. Once you put yourself into the point of view of the adressed audience and try to understand how they would view and think of the arguments presented in the papers, you often get an even better understanding of the texts – at least that’s the case for me.

    Regards.

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  2. I really love your reading response and totally agree with you. In terms of Garcia et al and Hutcheon, their purpose in writing their article is completely different. Garcia et al try to use psychological perspective to explain how individual and situational factors work on competition, but Hutcheon uses some examples to convince people that competition negatively influence academia. Garcia et al do not really talk about whether competition is good or bad, and they just address some factors related to competition. However, Hutcheon does mention the weakness of competition in academia. For example, she provides an example about philosophy class, and she thinks that when students debate, they just try to completely hurt another person and totally overthrow the opponent’s point of view.

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  3. Great response! It is crucial for writers to convey their message appropriate to their audiences, to gain understanding and connection. I also like how the two have a different structure of writing in the article. Since Hutcheon’s was a densely opinionated, the way it was written and the flow was not as organized as Garcia’s. Garcia’s article has subheadings, to categorize each bit of information and models, for better understanding.

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