Choose to compete: “COMPETITIVENESS” rather than “COMPETITION”

Personality and Individual Differences” by Bönte et. al. discuss the “competition” in very unique way comparing to other course readings in previous weeks. While majority of scholar papers put their focus on the “competition” which only occurs after individuals enter competitive environments, Bönte et. al. examine “competitiveness” which is the tendency of individuals of whether they  prefer to be in competitive setting. Therefore, they study HOW individuals come to compete rather than WHAT is the competition and try to conclude if it’s good or bad. This peculiar characteristic of the research allows us to explore our course theme, then competition, in a novel point of view. Moreover, it can be a useful tool when we analyse other competition papers’ WHAT more deeply by understanding HOW.

The definition of competitiveness by Bönte et. al. is “an individual’s general tendency to select into competitive environments. ”(Bonte.W et al, p.179). By examining competitiveness, not competition, they succeeded to observe how individuals differently behave (economical behavioural measurement)when there come to decide where they enter competition or not, and how those different behaviours relates to their psychological preferences (psychological self-reporting measurement), and conclude a positive correlation between these two competitiveness measurement. It is safe to say that their approach to the omnipresent concept of “competition” by analyzing “competitiveness” is effective as so-called psychological economics paper. Even though Bönte et. al acknowledge its limitation by saying that “By defining competitiveness as an individual’s general tendency to select into competitive environments, we neglected any preferences for specific behaviors within competitive environments”, this limitation makes their claim more valid in terms of specificity.

Paul replies to saying “I also belief that there are individual factors that influence how competition is perceived and whether it increase productivity or not.” I agree. And we better to keep in mind that individuals in competitive workforces consciously or unconsciously choose to be in competitive environment, and HOW they made the decision may help us to interpret the personal differences in how they perceive competition and how much or less stress they’d receive from it.

 Bönte et. al.’s argument on “competitiveness” provides the supplement for the discussion of competition in economic discipline by giving a suggesting the necessity of self-reported psychological measurement of competitiveness in economic studies which usually rely on behavioural observation in order to enhance its accuracy of the study on competitiveness and also competition. 

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1 Comment

  1. I have to agree Bönte’s reading was unique compared to the previous weeks, and to me it was refreshing. To understand how individuals come to compete seems to be the root towards finding out what competition is because there is no competition without competitive people. Thank you for this post!


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