The Motivation to Compete

Stefanone, Yue, and Toh’s study examines the connection between selfie-related behaviour and social cognitive theory, in this case reality TV viewing. Their study additionally predicts that self-esteem, established in competition, will be a mediating factor between reality TV viewing and selfie-behaviour. Stefanone et al. discuss the prevalence of social media in order to provide context for their hypothesis. They include a number of studies that have linked selfie posting to certain personality traits, such as narcissism, and to other attention seeking behaviours.  Additionally, the authors recognize that although there have been many studies focussed on selfie-behaviour there is still a lack of study on the motivational component of these particular behaviours. Throughout their research Stefanone, Yue and Toh attempt to identify some of the motivational causes of selfie-behaviour.

Social comparison is fundamental to the notion of self-perception. First introduced in 1954 by Festinger, Social Comparison Theory clearly identifies some of the factors in self-evaluation. Much of what Stafanone, Yue, and Toh talk about is relevant to the idea of social comparison. Cultural competition, or in this case social media competition, has to exist in the realm of social comparison. Without a self-evaluation process, based on our perceptions of others, the concept of competition is rendered inane. Identifying those that are doing better than us, upward social comparison, can negatively effect self-esteem, which in turn provides motivation to re-establish self-esteem, which may be achieved through competition. From an evolutionary perspective, self-esteem provides awareness of an individual’s acceptance among members of their group. It follows closely with the notion that low self-esteem equal’s low acceptance, which in turn predicts survival. In this sense, competition is not necessarily the cause, but rather the outcome. Leorelizur7645 provides an interesting opinion on the highly selective nature of social media sites, and the fairness of social media comparison. Individuals carefully curate images before sharing them on their social media profiles. In truth, social media isn’t fair, and instead only creates an illusion of fairness. With regard to self-esteem, unrealistic expectations only make competition more difficult. 

In their findings, Stefanone et al. discovered that many individuals based their self worth on competition, which mediated selfie behaviour and TV viewing. They additionally found that social learning was another important factor in predicting selfie behaviour. Much of what they present and talk about throughout their discussion is relevant to Garcia, Tory Tyrone and Schiff’s analysis of competition from a social comparison perspective. Both Garcia et al. and Stefanone, are trying to explain the motivation of certain behaviours through the particular types of competition addressed in their respective papers. Their findings are only the beginning of the research on motivational aspects of competitive behaviours and there is certainly more to be discovered within the realm of social networking.

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