Competition for Reputation

I was raised in a collectivistic culture and I can confidently say that a polished family name is an essential factor for my family. Being on the lookout when I step out of my house, with my subconscious asking me “what would people say?” is something I’ve adapted to. But I never understood why we let judgement get in the way. Until I realized the importance of a shining reputation amongst all the dulls; competition for reputation.

The main question here is: why is there a strive for reputation between families with a different upbringing but from the same society? I will be using studies that have been discussed in class as an attempt to answer this question.

As said in Worrel’s article, competition is defined as “any performance situation structured in such a way that success depends on performing better than others.” Furthermore, the article also states that competition can happen within groups which do not necessarily mean turning the opponents into an enemy but having a respectful relationship with the other party. According to a study by Johannes Hörner, within a business perspective, having a good reputation requires quality effort and leads to a higher position in the market. With the same logic applied to a single society, there are certain morals that are respected. In my opinion, based on the society I was brought up in, families try to reach up to these morals to avoid judgement and have counterparts use them as a positive example, as reputation is key.

Garcia’s article starts off by explaining the concept of social comparison as “the tendency to self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others- is an important source of competitive behaviour.” Two of the influencers of social comparison stated in the article are individual and social factors. In regards to the society I was brought up in, as mentioned before, reputation is crucial. Therefore, in terms of performance dimension, this type of competition within families is relevant. Furthermore, as stated by Cheryl, Garcia’s article claims that “…we are more willing to help strangers than our friends and feel more threatened by the success of our friends than by strangers.” It is also emphasized in the article that personal history also plays a role in the intensity of competitive behaviour. And adding a reference from out-group members makes in-group members coordinate better. So to break this down, with previous generations already presenting competitive behaviour, it is more likely that competitiveness between families from the same society would be brought down to the next generations. And knowing that our so-called ‘rivals’ have competitive blood, we are more likely to show traces of it as well. Lastly, since my society is very small and compact, it increases the intensity of competition. A possible reason for this is that word spreads quickly and hence, so does judgement.

With this knowledge, it is understood that families in my society put forth competitive behaviour towards one another due to the idea of social comparison and to avoid judgement.


  1. Hi!
    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading your posting.
    Even though I’m not from a small community, I agree that as a community gets smaller the compaction increases (am I interpreting you right?). But also, I think the sever dependence on reputations in such community comes from the necessity of sense of security. I’ve heard that the crime rate in rural small communities are usually lower than city neighbourhoods, because people in small community trust each other (or at least they have to), and ALSO people are afraid of being caught because as you said, words spread so fast. Therefore, they need to evaluate others based on reputation to assess if a (new) household worth trust as a member of small community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello, thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    I did not grow up in a collectivist culture, but a lot of my family did. I agree with you that maintaining a favorable image is especially important in collectivist cultures, and that this drives competition because no one wants to fall down the social ladder. I suppose this really lies in the underlying structure and ideologies of collectivist cultures, especially in those of shame-based cultures. I feel like this may cause people to wear a mask in order to conform to the norms of the society. It’s kind of like society constantly reinforces the feeling of shame in those who are different or who don’t fall under the standards of what is considered desirable in society, and this causes a lot of individuals to be stigmatized. I guess society really has a huge influence on competition, and just as you said, families adopt the values of those in their environment, even if their upbringing is different.
    Thanks again for sharing this. It was a very insightful read!

    Liked by 1 person

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